Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole

First of all, Happy Leap Day! I hope everyone enjoys the extra day, and makes something special of it!

Last night The New Yorker and I had an AMAZING dinner. I wanted something new, so I went to the Paleo Plan website and started hunting on their recipe page.

Paleo is the choice diet (not the right word, but that’s what it is) of CrossFit and I’ve decided to loosely follow it. Loosely is the key word here!

Anyway, back to dinner.

I knew we had chicken defrosted and I just bought avocados yesterday, so when I saw “Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole” I was sold.

The New Yorker agreed and I went grocery shopping.

First, I made the guacamole.

I used:
1/2 avocado
5 cherry tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1/2 garlic clove
lime juice

I mixed them all together, mushed them up, and the guac was ready to go!

Next was the chicken.

The New Yorker mixed up the spices and chicken while I sautéed the onions.

While I got that cooking, The New Yorker cut up a pepper.

He added the pepper and I cooked that until the peppers were no longer crunchy.

Then (since we had just finished an episode of Chopped) I “plated the dish”. I started with a bed of mixed greens,

added my guacamole and salsa on the side,

and finally, I added the chicken.

The New Yorker on the other hand, didn’t have such a colorful plate

Rice and chicken.. Booorrrrriinnnngggggg 😉

We started eating, and both of us looked at each other and said “this is a keeper!”. I turned around and printed the recipe off immediately so that we wouldn’t forget it.

The spice combination was really good. It was also really easy to prepare, and didn’t take long to cook at all. My kind of meal!

What are you doing on your extra day?

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Cork Board Makeover

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been a bit lazy. In blog terms that is.

Casa Sans Pasta has been getting a bit of a DIY makeover these past few days. Nothing too fancy, but just small touches that I needed to make it feel like more of a home, and less like a shell of a house. We’ve been living here for almost 2 years, and it’s been the ultimate DIY makeover since the word go. Luckily, the New Yorker is really handy, and I like to pretend I’m super crafty 😉 We also make a pretty good team, and have some great friends and family who’ve helped us out big time.

So what have I been up to? Decorating, decorating, decorating!

We have a wall that will get it’s own post later:

But in the meantime, I want to show you a cork board that I brought back to life. I have had this particular cork board since I was about 4. I remember it hanging, always over my desk, in all 3 of my childhood bedrooms, and too many dorm rooms/apartments to count while in college. Now that I live with the New Yorker, it’s been sitting in a room with no real purpose. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.

I decided to update its look and put it back in its rightful place of honor over my desk in my (soon to be workable) craft room.

I painted it white to start with.

Then I decided I wanted it to have a chevron pattern, so I hunted down the painter’s tape and started measuring and taping.

I used my Ex-acto knife to cut the extra tape and create a sharp point.

I finished taping the whole board

Then I painted the stripes grey

Once I had filled in all of the stripes, I let it dry and peeled off the painters tape.

Once I was sure it was all dry I broke out the painters tape again, and taped off the border.

And then painted that black

Once I have a picture of it up on the wall in the craft room, I’ll post it. Right now it’s just leaning against the wall, sad cork board.

So there you have it, project 1 of many I’ve been working on around the house. I can’t wait to share the rest with you!

What is a quick DIY project you have done recently?

Beautiful Mondays – DIY Salt and Sugar Scrubs

Welcome to another round of Beautiful Mondays! I’m taking today off from writing, and have turned the blog over to my sister Beth, from Boston2Berkeley. She offered to write the following post, and I’m so excited to have my very first guest poster on PastaFreeRunner! Please enjoy – it’s a good one – and make sure to show Beth some blog love!

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Hi, everyone!  I’m Beth, and I blog over at Boston2Berkeley.  I’m a huge fan of all kinds of homemade and DIY kitchen projects.  While I usually write about food, Kate and I thought Beautiful Mondays would be the perfect place to show you all how to make a few body and face scrubs.  These are all made with things you probably already have in your kitchen; not a single scary ingredient in sight!

sea_salt_scrub

The premise behind these scrubs is simple.  Both salt and sugar will act as an exfoliant.  Simple white sugar tends to be more gentle than the coarse kosher salt that I’m using.  Sea salt will be even more coarse; just pick whichever one you have on hand or feel comfortable with.  I usually use sugar for a facial scrub and salt for a body scrub.

The second component of the scrubs is oil.  Salt and sugar won’t dissolve in oil the same way they will in water.  You can use any kind of oil here; I’ve used safflower oil, olive oil, and almond oil all successfully.  Olive oil will have a stronger smell than something more neutral, so keep that in mind when you’re picking an oil.  Some people love the smell of coconut oil, but it’s solid at room temperature, which makes it harder to mix in the salt or sugar evenly.

The final component is scent.  I like using vanilla sugar (just pop a vanilla bean in a jar of sugar; the sugar will become completely infused with the scent of vanilla) and citrus zest together.  You can also get essential oils in almost any scent.  My grocery store carries them, but Amazon is also a great source.  The bottles are tiny, but you only need a few drops.  I have both grapefruit and peppermint essential oils that I’ve used with great success.  Pick whatever scent appeals to you!

Vanilla Lemon Sugar Scrub

lemon_sugar_scrub

  • 1 cup vanilla sugar (sugar that has been stored with a vanilla bean for at least a week)
  • 1/2 cup almond oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Store in a small sealed jar (canning jars are perfect for this).

Peppermint Sea Salt Scrub

peppermint_scrub

  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 10 drops of peppermint essential oil* (see note below)
  1. Mix together the sea salt and safflower oil in a medium bowl.
  2. Add 5 drops of peppermint essential oil and stir.  (* different manufacturer’s make their product at different strengths.  Start with 5 drops, and add more as necessary.  I’ve found ten drops works well for me, but your taste might be different)
  3. Add more peppermint oil as necessary.
  4. Store in a small sealed jar.

These are so simple to customize and quick to make.  Plus, with a cute label they’d make a great gift!

Beautiful Mondays – New Shampoo

Welcome to another edition of Beautiful Mondays! I’ve been having a lot of fun writing these! I’m learning a ton, and (with the exception of my face… rawr. ) starting to notice a huge difference!

This week we’re taking a look at something you use pretty frequently – shampoo and conditioner.

Previously I was using Redken Clear Moisture.

Source

My stylist suggested it to me before the wedding because my hair was SUPER dry and snapping easily. I loved it from the word go. It smelled amazing, and made my hair really soft after the first use! The more I used it, the softer and more healthy looking my hair got. It was great!

In the spirit of my new organic lifestyle, I took a look at the ingredients in my beloved Redken.

(I’m taking these right off the back of my old bottle)

water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, glycerin, dimethicone, distearyl, ether, behenyl, alcohol, cocamide mipa, sodium chloride, PPG-5-CETETH-20, Laureth-2, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, polyquaternium-10, arachidyl alcohol, Salicylic acid, carbomer,butylphenyl methylpropional,hydroxypropltrimonium hydrolyzed wheat protein, glucosamine Hcl,glutamic acid,linalool, methyl cocoate, limonene, oleth-10, disodium cocoamphodipropionate, sodium cocoate, lecithin, phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxide, phosphoric acid, prunus armeniaca kernel oil/apricot kernel oil, citric acid

Whoa. 

My next step was to head over to my favorite site: Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep.

My Redken conditioner is listed with a score of 5! YIKES!

Major concerns with this product are listed as:
-Endocrine disruption
-Irritation concerns
-Contamination concerns
-Neurotoxicity
-Organ System Toxicity

Ughhhh.

So I went to Whole Foods in search of a new Shampoo/Conditioner that I could get on a moments notice (aka, when I run out on a Tuesday morning). I picked up Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner.

I couldn’t get access to EWG Skin Deep in Whole Foods for some weird reason, and so I just assumed since Whole Foods sold it, it was good.

Then I went home with my new products and created a preliminary report on Skin Deep. Turns out that Giovanni  Smooth as Silk Deep Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner scores a 4, and has all of the same concerns as the Redken I was using!

Ooops!

Lesson learned. Do NOT just assume that because it’s sold at Whole Foods, that it’s good for you! Do your research first, and know what you are buying.

So now I am stuck with this shampoo/conditioner until I run out, but in the mean time, you can bet I will be doing my research and checking out what scores a 0-1, rather than a 4-5!

What do you use for a shampoo and conditioner?

Valentine’s Day Dinner

The New Yorker and I have a tradition of making ourselves dinner at home on Valentine’s Day. We’ve only been doing it for a couple of years, but we both really enjoy it. It removes the stress of trying to make reservations, and it allows us a little more flexibility with my schedule.

We make sure it’s different from every other night. Our normal night (when I’m not working) is to plop on the couch and watch TV until we’re hungry, get up and make something, and then eat on the couch in front of the TV. Terrible, I know, but it’s our routine, and we enjoy it.

The rules for Valentine’s Dinner are simple:
– Dress up. We act as if we’re going out, I do my hair and makeup, wear heels, and Chris stays in his work clothes instead of tossing on shorts and a T-shirt.
– Eat at the table. This gives us time to really talk. Granted, I’m usually talking straight through whatever show we’re watching, but this way, he talks back 😉

Since I was off yesterday I tried to make the kitchen a little more special looking. Our table tends to be a “catch-all” for (mainly my) stuff. I cleared everything off the table and put it all away.

My mom had given me a Valentine’s bag with 2  place mats, 2 napkins, and a great smelling candle. I set everything up and then set the table.

It really gets you in the Valentine’s Day mood, right??

I made dessert (simple, but cute) and when The New Yorker got home we started to make dinner. (By “we” I mean he did it all, and I took pictures. Typical.)

First were the potatoes.They came from our Green Box, and were a mix of sweet potatoes and not sweet potatoes (not sure what exactly they were). He cut them up, added onions, garlic, olive oil, and a few spices. He tossed them all in a bowl until they were coated, and then they went in a pan in the oven.

Next came the green beans. He mixed them in the same bowl as the potatoes and then put them in the oven.

Finally came the salmon.

The New Yorker has this amazing rub he uses for the salmon in the summer when he grills it on cedar planks. I asked him to do that and then grabbed all of the ingredients.

First he squeezed fresh lemon juice on the salmon. Then in a bowl he combined:
-brown sugar
-ground cumin
-chilli powder
-sea salt
-black pepper

He spread it over the salmon and then that went in the oven as well

While we were waiting we had a drink.

When it was finally all done we loaded up our plates and sat down to eat.

Dinner was spectacular! The salmon was amazing, and I really loved the potatoes and green beans as well. It was simple enough, yet felt a little more special since we don’t eat nearly as much fish as we’d both like to.

(PS – The Rangers were playing the Bruins, so I caved a little on the ‘no TV during Valentine’s Dinner’ rule. He was good though, only checked the score a few times during the game)

Finally, we had dessert.

I had made my favorite peanut butter cookies, but added a little something to them-

In the Valentine’s bag from my mom there were also Dove chocolates, so when I pulled the cookies out of the oven I pushed a chocolate into the center of a few. Then I cut out a paper heart and placed it on the center of the cookie. I sprinkled powdered sugar over the cut out and when I pulled it off, voila! Decorated cookies.

We both enjoyed the cookies, and brought a few down to Grandma so she could enjoy them too.

So there you have it. The Valentine’s Dinner 🙂

Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?

Check It Off The List!

Yesterday was full of new and exciting things.

My day started out with an intro class at the CrossFit gym. Yup, that’s right, I FINALLY started CrossFit! (I can cross it off of my Fit February list!)

 

I walked into the gym, and had a slight panic attack. It was packed with equipment that I had very strategically avoided in the past. No comfy treadmill, no familiar dumbbell.

CrossFit gyms are referred to (lovingly) as a “box”. Nothing fancy, just 4 walls a ceiling, and a padded floor. There were 4 pull up bars, a few racks, and otherwise just space and some mobile equipment.

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Heather greeted me right away, and was super friendly. She showed me around the box, and then went over a quick warm up with me. Following that we went through some of the basic movements used in the Workout of the Day (WOD).

(Each of the following movements has a link to a Youtube video so you can see the if you are unfamiliar, which I was for most of them!)

We went over the different types of squats:

Air Squats

Front Squats 

Back Squats

Overhead Squats

Then we did sit ups Crossfit style!

Next we moved on to push ups. Heather said she was impressed with what I could manage for a push up (which isn’t much!) I actually snorted when she told me I could do those for a short time (like 10-20 push ups) but if I was going to do more – say 50 to 100 – I should do modified. (Later on I maxed out my modified push ups at 12… I have a ways to go!!)

Finally she showed me the pull up bars. She brought me over to one and demonstrated a jumping pull up. I was a little too short for the box and bar that she had set up, so we moved to the smaller bar. MUCH better!

Last but not least, we went over pull ups with the assist of a band.

When all of that was over, Heather looked at me and said “Are you ready for your first CrossFit Workout?”

Wait. What?? Didn’t we go over enough? My quads were already screaming from all of the squats. Oh hell…

So off we went. She explained the workout and set me up on the rower. All the sudden I heard. “3..2..1.. GO!” and I started rowing.

I rowed for 500 meters. Then I hopped up and did 40 Air Squats, 30 sit ups, 20 push ups (where I figured out my current max…) and 10 assisted pull ups.

Holy Moly! I may be able to run a half marathon and be fine when I’m done, but that had me huffing and puffing!!

I finished in 7:15. I have absolutely nothing to compare this to other than the New Yorker’s best time of 4:xx

I left feeling awesome! How can you not after something like that? I have 2 more private sessions with Heather, and then I’ll jump into the group classes.

How am I feeling today though, you ask? Well. I’m walking like a penguin.

Source: google.com via Kara on Pinterest

 

This little guy looks cute. I – however – look silly. Oh well. I’m going back Friday, so as long as I can lift my arms above my shoulders by then, I’ll be golden 🙂

Next fun thing:

I got my new glasses yesterday! They are these from For Eyes:

I’ll have to get a picture of me in them soon, but right now my face has abandoned the treaty we made, where I told it NOT to break out like a 15 year old. Fail. Oh well, soon enough!

I also got my new contacts yesterday. Those look like contacts. Nothing super fun.

And FINALLY, the BEST thing we got yesterday….

The New Yorker picked up his new 2012 VW Jetta GLI 🙂 Boy, was he a happy camper!!

This is actually a funny story. I was at work this weekend, and the plan was for him to go do the “first test drive” since he didn’t want to waste his time planning on a car if he didn’t like how it drove.

I got the phone call that said “Hey Kate, they’re giving me a good deal….” and that was that. The car was his.

Here’s the inside (done at night, on my phone.. sorry!)

It has all the bells and whistles from heated seats, to bluetooth phone connection, to a Fender sound system. The car is AMAZING and I’m so happy he loves it. He gets stuck in traffic every day, so this will make the traffic a LOT nicer to sit through!

Even better? Now I have a car! We kept the Toyota, since it’s still in great condition, and now I am free to go further than the T will take me!

Woo!! So there you have it! The PastaFree house had an amazing day yesterday!

I hope everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day!

What is something great that happened to you yesterday?

Beautiful Mondays

Welcome back for another edition of Beautiful Mondays! I hope everyone had a good weekend.

I went on a hunt for makeup remover today. I wanted makeup remover wipes since I find them more convenient. Keeping in mind what I learned last week about ingredients, I stopped into Origins, hoping that they would have some great options.

I was out of luck.

I really should have done my research before looking like a total idiot in the store with my iPhone stuck on the EWG’s Skin Deep site, but live and learn. When I got in the store, I told the very helpful associate what I was looking for. She said that they didn’t have any makeup remover wipes, but that she did have some makeup remover options. She brought me over to them, and I told her I would need some time to look at the ingredients.

I pulled up the Skin Deep Site, and found this:

And that’s where I should have stopped.

But again, live and learn.

So I clicked on it, and went hunting for the product she had given me, which was called Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Eye Make Up Remover Pads. While I couldn’t find the exact product, I found others from the line.

A score of 3 (yellow) is not good enough for me. I wanted 0 and green. The end. When I flipped over the product to read the ingredients, I saw names that I did not recognize at all. Lots of them.

I know the company states:

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But I just couldn’t stomach the rating, coupled with too many ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. Unfortunately I was feeling too awkward in the store already to take a picture of the ingredient list. Origins does not list the ingredients for their products online (that I could find. I may be wrong.), but I was concerned enough that I walked out of the store without making a purchase.

Next stop? CVS. I’m not sure what I was hoping to find there, but I gave it a shot. I walked up and down the aisle trying to find anything that even said “Natural” on it.

Fail. Big time.

What I did find was the product called “Simple”

Never judge a book by its cover SERIOUSLY comes into effect here! Nothing about this product was vitamin or simple!

No animal derivatives is stellar, but want to address those parabens? They happen to cause endocrine problems. And the Phenoxyethanol? That one can cause organ damage. Sweet, sign me up, ASAP! NOT…

So I left another store without a purchase.

My hunt will have to continue because I was unable to find something that measured up to my standards, and I was cut a little short due to a fun errand with the husband – which I’ll share with you tomorrow 🙂

I hope you all had a great day!

What product do you use for makeup remover?