Eat in Month 2014: Week 2 Check In and Ice Skating

Well, we’re half way done with the Eat in Month 2014 Challenge (though it’s not too late to join)! How are you holding up? I must admit, this year has been really tough. I’m not sure if it’s this hard every year, and I just forget, but it sure seems harder than normal. I’m really missing some of my favorite restaurants where I often get lunch or a quick post-Zumba dinner. The good news is that I’ve already noted some things to keep my habits in check for the rest of the year.

What I’ve learned/noted so far:

  • Spice up simple lunches with extra features – my go-to lunch is a turkey sandwich, but paired with a tasty snack (like those kettle salt and vinegar chips I can’t stop eating at the moment) or some locally made hot garlic, probiotic pickles by Pickleville, the whole meal is more enjoyable. Add in fun twists or a couple, small upgrades to treat yourself.
  • toasted turkey and cheese sandwich > turkey and cheese sandwich (find a toaster oven!)
  • Plan ahead – eating at a local restaurant is okay if you can afford it and you enjoy it, but you shouldn’t just do it as a crutch if you’re feeling lazy or don’t have anything to eat at home.
  • Eat your greens – cook extra vegetables throughout the week and portion into individual servings to grab and go with lunch.

What have you learned, noted, or thought about with this challenge?


January 8


As I mentioned above lunch was much better with some of my favorite chips and locally made pickles. The only thing that would have made this better is maybe a piece of delicious chocolate. Finding a toaster oven at the office has been a big win, since I think they make the sandwiches taste so much better.


I was feeling really tired from my 9-to-5 and teaching Zumba, so I took a bit of help from the freezer and made these Trader Joe’s vegetable pot stickers with an arugula salad with fresh sliced cucumber. While I was at Trader Joe’s this week, I got a bag of organic lemons, and I used one to make a quick lemon vinaigrette, which I really enjoyed. I even had an extra slice of lemon for my water.

January 9


For some challenge years, I don’t eat anything that doesn’t come from my house. This year, I’ve decided that I can go to Starbucks once per week. I was having a particularly long morning on the 9th and got my new usual – the green tea latte with half classic syrup.


For lunch, I tried a new frozen meal – Chana Saag by Saffron Road. I really like how the company pays a lot of attention to quality of ingredients and sourcing, which you can read about more on the Saffron Road web site. The lunch was really tasty, and I’ve already purchased a new one for a rainy day.


The only downside to frozen meals is that they don’t seem to keep my hungry. So, I had some coconut peanut butter toast and green beans later in the day.


For dinner, I made a big stir fry, making sure I had enough for leftovers.

January 10


I normally don’t love leftovers. I find that chicken tastes weird when it’s reheated in a microwave. But, this meal re-heated fairly nicely. I actually really enjoyed it and would do it again in the future. I especially liked how, unlike when I eat out (with most restaurants), I can control the quality of my chicken.


For dinner, we started with salads and then…


…we made pizza! We got ingredients from Pasta & Provisions – they have the best dough, sauce, and cheese. The cheese is really key. It just melts so much better than the stuff at the grocery store. We enjoyed this whilst catching up on the end of Sherlock season 2! We’re so hooked. Didn’t season 3 just start?

January 11


On Saturday, I spoke on a panel of local bloggers at Whole Foods for their health fair along with Lauren (who writes for Food Babe), Brittany, and Lori. We had a great discussion, and it was so nice catching up with my blog friends and meeting Shannon who organized the event. And since I was there, I stocked up on some groceries for #eatinmonth and picked up this…


…delicious light lunch of toasted baguette slices with brie and olives.

January 12


On Sunday, I did a boat load of cooking. One thing I made was a double batch of my Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale soup so I’d have plenty to freeze for later.


And I took a break in the middle of the day to go ice skating after watching the US Nationals ladies long programs the night before. Seeing all the beautiful skating made me miss all the skating I used to do and had me googling adult competitions at midnight. While I won’t be competing any time soon, I figured I could at least hit up a local rink and skate around a bit. I’m extremely rusty, but I had a great time. Boy, were my legs hurting the next day, though!

January 13


One of the best things I made on Sunday was a new oil-free granola recipe. I can’t wait to share it with you, but I do have this granola recipe already blogged if you can’t wait. Anywho, that stuff was like crack! Healthy-crack, of course. I enjoyed the granola all week with coconut milk yogurt. I eat dairy, but I love the way coconut milk tastes, and the yogurt was really good. I did learn that I don’t like the Trader Joe’s one as much as the So Delicious, though, because the TJ’s one is kind of lumpy, while the latter is nice and smooth.

January 14


And thanks to a trip to Great Harvest on Saturday, we had more whole grain bread so I could have my current favorite breakfast: buttered toast with a fried egg. Though, after eating that granola the rest of the week, there could be a nice favorite making it’s way to the top!


Is anyone else excited for the winter Olympics to start? I feel like I’ve fallen out of it ever since Michelle Kwan stopped competing, but the US Nationals has re-inspired me! I’m pulling for the two US underdogs – Polina and Jason Brown. Have you heard of them yet? Polina came in second at her first ever senior level competition, and she’s just adorable. Her programs were really beautiful, and I thought she really pulled you into her skating. I can’t wait to see how she does in the Olympics.

And you may have heard of Jason’s program already since it went a little viral:

FIrst of all, this program is so impressive. Although he doesn’t do any quadruples, it’s still full of challenging jumps and moves in addition to being highly entertaining. One of the things that really jumped out at me was the entrance to some of his jumps since some were pretty complex. And the best thing is watching at the end when he sees his scores and is so surprised. It’s just so cute.

Go Jason and Polina!

Eat in Month 2014: Week 1 Check In and an Announcement

Hi everyone!

For those doing the 5th annual Eat in Month Challenge, how are you doing? We’re just over one week in, and I’m hanging in there. How about you?

I thought I’d check in and share some of my eats, challenges, and triumphs from the first week. Here we go:

January 1


In the past, I’ve done special breakfasts on New Year’s Day, but this year, we were still catching up from holiday travels, and the house wasn’t well stocked up. I whipped up this tasty oatmeal with some pantry ingredients, and it was really good! I’ll share the recipe since it’s a great I-haven’t-grocery-shopped-recently kind of breakfast.


We spent some good QT cleaning out and organizing our pantry, fridge, and freezer. It was a great way to assess what we had before going out and getting more groceries. Sometimes, I get so busy that I don’t look through our pantry to know what’s in there, and I forget what we have. This was a good reminder that I should look at it more often to help with meal planning.

We got pretty busy doing things around the house, so although we should have done a good grocery stocking trip to prepare for the challenge, we just got what we needed for the day and opted to shop later. Plus, I’d heard at least one grocery store I wanted to visit was closed on NYD.


For NYD dinner, we definitely had to have our traditional collards and black eyed peas. We also had brown rice and made my mom’s Filipino pork adobo, partially because if you double the batch, you’ll get leftovers. I think the pork re-heats really well, so it’s a leftover I look forward to. Hello, lunch!


Since I skipped the special breakfast, I opted for a special dessert. I decided to make a bigger version of my chocolate cake minis and did some research and calculations to make one 8-inch round cake. Unfortunately, my numbers weren’t quite right, and I ended up with two 8-inch round cakes. Whoops! Luckily, the recipe turned out great, so I’ll be sharing that one here on The Chic Life soon.


January 2

The second day of EIM was my first day back at the office after my long holiday break. It was a challenge waking up early and having to pack for the day. Plus, I was throwing a glow party at my Zumba class after work, so I had to do extra preparations PLUS figure out breakfast and pack lunch.


As planned, I had leftover pork adobo for lunch, which I really enjoyed. I also had leftover rice, collards, and black eyed peas, but I was too full to eat the peas, so I saved those for a Friday snack.


That night, I came home a little later after teaching Zumba and hitting up Trader Joe’s (had to restock sometime!), and hubby had cooked dinner! He made spaghetti and green beans. Yum! I was so glad he cooked because I didn’t know what I was going to have. I had a bunch of stuff from TJs, but I hadn’t really planned a specific meal. I had been thinking I’d have frozen soup, but this was even better! Plus, we had cake leftovers for dessert!

January 3


Still struggling to get back into my routine, I woke up a little late and had this grab-and-go breakfast – a KIND plus bar and Babybel cheese. I have a few of these bars at my work desk for these types of mornings. They will be a great back-up.


We were feeling pretty tired from the (yes, it was short) work week. Ahh, so #firstworldproblem. Anywho, we opted to make TJ’s soy corn dogs, Annie’s mac and cheese, and I cooked some collards my friend Angie gave me in my Asian collard style. This is my current favorite way to eat collards. I’ll try to share the recipe soon since it would be a good one for EIM. We also enjoyed some of my BIL’s home-brewed beer.

January 4


I made some stove top banana oatmeal with flaxseeds, hemp hearts, and almonds for a pre-workout breakfast on Saturday. Oatmeal is my go-to when I work out in the mornings.

I had a great time at class, and hubby picked me up afterwards to do some car shopping. We’ve been shopping over the last six or so months, but I don’t take big purchases lightly (and neither does he), so we’re taking our time. We’re also struggling to choose between two cars, but I’m sure something will work out. We ended up not buying anything, but the process took longer than I expected. Since we were out and about, I grabbed a granola bar at one dealership and we skipped lunch in favor of an early (really early!) dinner. We really should have planned that one out better, but we made it work.

Post car-shopping, we stocked up on some 9-grain bread at Great Harvest, which was key for our eats the upcoming week.

January 5


Since we finally had bread again, we had a classic Chic house breakfast – a fried egg and toast. I think I could eat this every day. I like to spice up the eggs with different seasoning blends from our local Savory Spice Shop. I added berebere to this one for some zesty flavor.


I made my Slow Cooker Beef and 3 Bean Chili for dinner so we’d have plenty of leftovers for upcoming meals. We also had steamed broccoli and my Corn Bread Minis (which make just enough for two people). Perfect!

January 6

Somehow, I forgot to take photos from this day. But no worries, I did manage to eat in the whole day. The plans were easier thanks to the chili leftovers, which made for a great lunch. Monday is usually one of the easier days since I have the previous day to plan and prepare. It’s later in the week that becomes a challenge for me.

January 7


I kicked the week off with stove top banana oatmeal with the same toppings as Saturday, plus Cloister Honey’s whipped cinnamon honey stirred in. Love that stuff!


I had a turkey muenster sandwich on 9 grain that I toasted in my office’s toaster oven. Toasted sandwiches help me enjoy sandwiches so much more. Def try finding a toaster oven in your office if you’re looking to switch things up a little. I just put the bread and ingredients like the photo above (turkey on top of one slice and cheese on the other) and toast away. So good! I had salt and vinegar chips and sliced cucumbers on the side.


Hubby’s gotten into Indian food, which is good for me because I love it! I want to try making tikka masala from scratch, but we just used a jarred simmer sauce for dinner and served it with brown rice, green beans from my family’s garden, and TJ’s frozen naan (so good!).


And I tried out a new donut recipe that I created awhile back to recipe-test. These are garam masala baked donuts, and they’re great! I’ll be sharing this recipe soon, too!


So, all in all, a great week! How did you do?


In other news, I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be a speaker at Fitbloggin 2014 in Savannah, GA. Woohoo! I’m equally excited and nervous. This will be my first time presenting at a conference, which is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now. I’m just glad I have a few months to prepare. Phew! I’ll be presenting HTML and CSS for non-technical bloggers, so if anyone wants to learn more about coding and has little to no experience, this is the presentation for you! I’m planning to make the session interactive and help people actually write some simple HTML and CSS during the session to empower them to be able to make minor changes to their blog and understand some of their code. I’m really looking forward to it and the conference overall. I’ve always wanted to go to Fitbloggin, and I’m really glad it’s come a little closer to home!


Thanks for reading! Have a great rest of the week!

Christmas Part Deux 2013

I hope you all had wonderful holidays this year!

We spent the first half of our Christmas celebrations with hubby’s family in Durham, NC, where we helped Santa bring the tree for the kiddos on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, I caught a 24 hour bug of some sorts and ended up sick on Christmas, so I didn’t take any photos from the day. I slept through a lot of the day, but I did get to partake in two of the key family events – Christmas morning and Christmas dinner. I definitely didn’t want to miss hubby’s family (especially the kids!) opening their presents or catching up with his extended family.


We headed to Greenville the day after Christmas for part deux of our celebrations.


By this point, I was not feeling 100%, but I definitely felt a lot better!


Bailey, on the other hand, had an absolute blast.


He got to open a ton of presents…



…and this year my family even got him his own stocking with a “B” on it. So cute!



I think he was feeling a bit like the Happy Bunny – “It’s all about me. Deal with it.”


Mom made me some of her famous Get Well Soup (which I’ve blogged about before – click here for the recipe).


We ended up having to push our Christmas dinner back a couple days (since I’m easing my way back to food), which I feel bad about, but better late than never, right? I’m just so thankful we’ve been able to spend so many days with each of our families. It’s so nice to have some good down time with the people we love to end the year.

Insta-Chic {Recent Zumba Outfits, #eatinmonth Prep, and Vacation}

This is what I’m ready for…



Any other workaholics out there? I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, but I tend to push-push-push myself as hard and fast as I can go to get all the things done that I want to do in a day. Work has been a little extra crazy, too. My project had a spike in activity, and that, combined with the right-before-you-go-on-vacation need to get all the last minute things done, has me ready for a break. It reminds me a bit of taking a really intense course in college – you bust your a$$ all year with an extra push to cram for exams at the end of the year and finally…Christmas break is on, and you can let go. I feel like I need to take a deep breath out. Phew!


As for shopping…

I went to the mall last weekend to finalize my Christmas shopping. I got almost everything I needed in about an hour and even managed to find this Naked 3 palette still in stock. After grabbing what I thought was the last one (there were more in another part of the store), I decided to take a look at the Naked 2, which I totally ignored when it came out since I still had so much of the #1 palette left. With the help of Tony, the nice associate who helped me, we decided that 2 was actually a better fit. The 3 palette has a lot of pink in it, and that doesn’t mesh well with my skin since it has some redness going on these days. I really wanted to take 2 home with me, especially since I had my $20 off $50 VIB discount, but I needed to use that discount for a Christmas gift for someone else. I added the 2 to my Christmas wish list instead. We’ll see if Santa brings it!


Here are some of my recent Zumba outfits – I finally wore this pink and black number I purchased at Zumba Convention this summer. The sweat pants were a little too hot to wear earlier in the year, but I’ve been rocking the tank top on the regular. It’s one of my current faves.


And here are my “crazy pants.” I got these patterned pants at American Apparel, and I was inspired to purchase them after seeing them on Mega Jam. I love Jasmine’s dancing and style!


I’m working hard to not let my fifth annual Eat in Month challenge sneak up on me. I haven’t started stocking up yet, but I have purchased a couple things to sample ahead of time. This frozen chicken pot pie from Trader Joe’s is a good buy. I had this for a last minute dinner recently, and it was really good for frozen food. I prefer fresh, but sometimes shortcuts are helpful.


I also need to remember to start making some more homemade soup. I love freezing these soup leftovers because they’re so much better than canned soup. I haven’t had canned soup in years now, and I don’t miss it one bit. I like to make big batches and label them with contents and a date.


The last week of work was a big food fest. I love how people start sharing food with each other at the office. My one co-worker brought us a bunch of locally baked croissants from Fourth Ward Bread Company, and they were so flaky, buttery, and delicious.


I decided to make a contribution to my teammates and co-workers by making batch of chocolate chip dough balls after work and teaching Zumba earlier in the week. They were a big hit. One co-worker even said I could sell them, he liked them so much, which made me happy to hear. I won’t be selling them any time soon, but you can make them with the chocolate chip dough balls recipe, which is online here.


As for today…today was my first day of vacation. I’m off work for the rest of the year! Woohoo! I started the day by trying to sleep in, moving slowly, and spoiling Bailey with a couple extra “just because” treats.


And then I went with my friend Summer to 7th Street Market for breakfast and coffee. I had a sesame seed bagel from Local Loaf, which they kindly warmed for me in their oven and served with butter.


And then Summer and I made our way down to Not Just Coffee to try their Winter Lattes – slightly spicy, chocolatey deliciousness! You gotta try one while they’re here. We loved those lattes! Coffee was followed by lunch homemade by Summer herself – roasted squash soup. Yum! She’s a talented cook and is in the process of writing a cookbook. You can check out her blog to stay apprised of cookbook updates and to hear when it’s ready. Her recipes are delicious for everyone, but she specializes in allergy-friendly cooking.

After my day of playing, I went out to wrap up Christmas shopping and run errands. And tonight, I’m getting things done before we leave town to visit family. I’m doing the last of my gift wrapping, taking care of laundry, and soon, I’ll be packing. I can’t wait for some R&R and quality time with our families. Soooooo ready for Christmas vacation this year!

Happy holidays everyone!

Insta-Chic {#auctionforPH Goodies, Baking Begins, and Eats Lately}

The holidays snuck up on me this year. I’m guessing the same thing happened to many people since Thanksgiving was so late this year. I’m really behind on Christmas shopping (read: I haven’t bought anything…well…maybe one gift), and I’m going to a holiday party tomorrow, and I haven’t purchased a thing for it. We have no decorations up yet, and I haven’t seen a single holiday movie so far. Nonetheless, I’m really excited it’s holiday time, and we’re getting into things this weekend.

We’ve decided to purchase less gifts this year, so I have less shopping to do, and I’m planning on wearing the same dress I wore to last year’s party to this year’s party. It’s a fashion faux pas, but I don’t care. I love that dress, and I don’t mind saving the money. We’re hoping to put our decorations up later this weekend, and I have plans to see Christmas movies on Sunday. All in due time…


In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed seeing #auctionforPH updates on twitter and Instagram, and I’ve even received a couple of the goodies I won. Here are my winning treats from Erica of Itzy’s Kitchen – almond butter chocolate chunk cookies and mini muffins (a surprise bonus). I actually won these cookies before, so I knew they’d be delicious! Hubby and I have eaten almost half the box already. I had some of the muffins for breakfast on Thursday and froze the rest to enjoy later.


My friend Leslie made this beautiful breakfast basket earlier this week with freshly baked apple bread, homemade jams, mugs, apples, and local coffee.


Winning bidder Lindsey got to take that basket of goodness home on Thursday after Zumba class. Color me jealous!


I cracked open a fresh bag of King Arthur’s unbleached all purpose flour – my favorite AP. Who’s ready for some holiday baking?


I’ve made a few batches of dough balls recently, but molasses cookies always make me think of Christmas. I whipped up a batch of the molasses cookies from the latest Bon Appétit magazine. They were SO good! Great recipe! The smell of the cinnamon and spices made my house smell like December.


My parents sent me home post-Thanksgiving with a bunch of vegetables from their garden. I steamed up some of this cabbage to go with dinner recently.


I also used turkey leftovers to try making turkey tetrazzini again. I think I may have nailed it this time! Maybe I’ll share the recipe soon? I guesstimated most of the measurements, and they just barely fit into this casserole dish. But, they fit! #kitchenwin


And here are more recent eats – spaghetti…with bison!


Dad sent me home with this book to read. It seems pretty business-oriented, and I think there are some good tips for a 9-to-5-er like me. I’ve only read a little bit so far, and though I don’t agree with 100% of the book, I’ve seen many good tips so far that I can apply soon. Definitely good food for thought.


And since I don’t have enough of them (hehe), I bought another mug. I love having positive messages on my coffee mugs. Coffee is one of the first things I go for in the morning, and I like starting my day off on the right foot…with an uplifting note.


And here’s a Bailey photo. Just because.


I’ve been editing photos of that vegan lentil loaf to share with you guys since you said that was the recipe you want to see next. I took SO many photos, and I first narrowed it down from over 100 to “only” 49. After looking through the collection a couple more times, I think I have it down to roughly 15. I wanted to share some in progress photos since those can be helpful in a recipe like this. I’m hoping to share the recipe and post tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the holiday season!

Leftover Thanksgiving Breakfast Recipe: Turkey Egg Casserole (For Four)

Ahh…the day after Thanksgiving. A day for releasing your inner shopaholic and trying to figure out what to do with all those leftovers from you family’s feast the day before. I’m generally not a big leftover fan. I don’t like the way food tastes when it’s reheated. I know, I’m weird. But, one thing I’ve found is that if you transform the leftovers into something new in the right way, the leftovers are practically shiny and new all over again. Those are the kind of leftovers I can get down with!

In fact, I’ve had fun experimenting with holiday leftovers in recent years. Scroll to the end of this post to see a list of recipes for Thanksgiving leftover ideas.








Leftover Thanksgiving Breakfast Recipe: Turkey Egg Casserole (For Four)

Here’s an easy and delicious idea for leftover turkey and cooked vegetables. This one is also great if you’re still entertaining guests the next day – make a couple batches if you have a lot of friends and family over! I used leftover cooked brussels sprouts, but most cooked vegetables would easily work in this recipe.

Serves: 4


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1/2 cup leftover cooked turkey
  • 1/2 cup leftover cooked vegetable of choice (we used leftovers from this brussels sprouts recipe)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or sub cheese of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional, but adds great color and fresh flavor), plus more to garnish


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 9″ x 5″ (6 cup capacity) loaf pan by brushing with oil, melted butter (or spraying with non-stick spray).
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add eggs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk with a fork to evenly combine. Stir in turkey, vegetables, and cheese.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center is set (when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
  4. Wait till dish is safe to handle. Slice, serve, top with more parsley if you want, and enjoy!


Did you like this recipe? Please share it with your friends using one of the share buttons at the end of this post. When you share my posts, it helps me know what you guys like, and what I should focus on blogging about in the future.


Here are some of my other recipes you can make using your Turkey Day leftovers:

And here are more ideas from around the web:

Thanks for stopping by! Happy eating!

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