What a Wonderful Day!!

Today was just fantastic! For one, it was Friday, which is awesome. AND it was payday: DOUBLE awesome. I spent the afternoon after work with my friend Judee (of simple pasta recipe fame) getting a manicure and pedicure. My toes are now HOT pink, and my nails are a beautiful magenta… much more cheerful than those dark purples that are around!

I got home to 2 surprises, one of which you need to see for yourself:

This is a side of a box!

This is a side of a box!

My Secret Cupid gift came! It was in this beautifully decorated box, and upon opening the package, I found the cutest assortment of gifts and the sweetest card from Caroline over at ConsiderEatz! THANK YOU SO MUCH CAROLINE!!!!! I’m in love with all of my lovely gifts!

The sweetest gift EVER!

The sweetest gift EVER!

Caroline sent me a tiny green vase (she read about my love of tiny things), an adorable pink owl scrubby sponge (my love of pink things!), caramel soy crisps which I’m now DYING to try, and the lovely cloth that they’re all laying on? Yeah, its a beautiful tiered apron that deserves its own picture:

I'd model it, but I think it looks better on the table

I'd model it, but I think it looks better on the table

I cant wait to use it!

When the mailman came, he knocked on the door, which meant there was a package! Adam opened the door and said “WHOA Heavy package!” YAY! My package from Janny over at POM Wonderful came! We now have a shelf full of 8 adorable bottles of POM juice! Thanks Janny!

I can't wait to cook with this stuff!

I can't wait to cook with this stuff!

Now, on to dinner. Since it’s Friday, Adam and I wanted to go out. We could NOT decide on a single place to go, so we ended up at Sweet Tomatoes (also known as Souplantation in some areas of the country). I got myself a HUGE salad:

Sorry for the crappy phone pics, I forgot my camera!

Sorry for the crappy phone pics, I forgot my camera!

Then continued my meal with a small baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce:

Cheesy goodness

Cheesy goodness

Then, I finished off my dinner with a lovely sundae: warm chocolate cake, vanilla soft serve, and caramel sauce. This whole bowl is under a cup, so this was JUST enough!

YUM!

YUM!

We ran a couple errands, and I came home and we’re watching “21” on OnDemand. So far, its a great movie. As I was catching up on blog reading, I found that the SITS girls (Secret is in the Sauce) are holding a FAB contest to win an entire bedroom dream set including sheets, sheet spray, and all sorts of other goodies. Don’t bother entering…it’s already MINE!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! The weather is finally supposed to break and get warmer!

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Cuban-Style Chicken, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Stew

When I was on my way home from work today, I had literally, no idea what the heck to make for dinner. No idea whatsoever. I knew I had chicken, but I also have ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce, and various other veggies… when I got home, I started scrounging. I found a sweet potato… then 2 cans of black beans… then chicken broth… then I had an idea! A quick, spicy, stovetop stew was perfect for this absolutely freezing night. I decided to take a few flavors I know and love, along with a technique I learned from making Ropa Vieja: meat + vinegar + slow (ish) cooking = really tender meat.

There were some really intense flavors here!

There were some really intense flavors here!

Cuban-Style Chicken, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Quick Stew

Ingredients

2 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1 large sweet potato, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cans (15 oz) black beans, rinsed well

1 can (15 oz) chicken broth

2 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sriracha to taste

salt & pepper to taste

2 c. cooked rice

sour cream (if desired)

Directions

In a skillet with a lid (or pot), heat the olive oil and garlic. Sautee until aromatic and garlic is lightly browned. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, beans, broth, vinegar, and spices. Stir well, bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for about 35 minutes. Serve on rice with sour cream on top.

I call this “Cuban Style” because, in many of the Cuban dishes I’ve had and made, they mix a bean-based protein, a meat-based protein, and multiple starches along with intense flavors and slow cooking. Next time I make this, it’s going into the crock pot to cook for even longer. It was very satisfying with all the different flavors and textures!

Not long after finishing dinner (and our first set of thank you notes!), there was a knock at the back door, and the UPS man handed Adam a mystery package. I recognized the name of the company on the outside of the box, but definitely did not order anything from them! Then it hit me! It was the hummus I’d won from Back In Skinny Jeans‘ giveaway! Stephanie at BISJ told me that I’d won “hummus in a tube”, but when I opened the box, there was a great surprise!

SO... MUCH... HUMMUS...

SO... MUCH... HUMMUS...

I got 4 jars of Wild Garden Hummus, 2 in original flavor and 2 in Roasted Garlic. I’m so excited to try them!

OH FELLOW BLOGGERS!!! MAKE SURE you visit Lee’s blog here to sign up for our “Secret Cupid” Valentine’s Day Exchange!

The Gnu Fairy Came!!

When I got home today, there was a package waiting for me on the kitchen counter. I didn’t remember ordering anything, so I was a little surprised, but when I opened it, I found that the Gnu Bar fairy (ok, really it was the lovely Robyn from Gnu Foods) had come and left me a very generous present! Inside was this beautiful box full of 5 different kinds of bars:

SUCH a generous sample!

SUCH a generous sample!

I of course, immediately tore into a Peanut Butter bar. While it didn’t exactly taste like peanut butter, it was pleasantly sweet and had a fantastic chewy texture. It was also SUPER satisfying! I was ravenous on my way home from work, and this bar kept me completely satisfied for nearly 3 hours, a major feat. Using the nutrition facts, I was also able to calculate that each of these bars has a mere Points® Value of 2, which is a bargain! When Adam got home, he wanted a cinnamon raisin bar. He said:

“I would highly recommend this bar! It tastes like an oatmeal raisin cookie with a good amount of cinnamon. I like that its soft, and for only 2 Points®, it’s definitely the best bar out there!”

I would say there’s a rave review so far! I’ll be having a cranberry orange one for breakfast tomorrow to help keep me away from the “Pig Out” foods in the lounge. Once a month, a team of teachers brings in a plethora of foods for everyone to share… usually not too healthy, and I’m DETERMINED to absolutely NOT pig out!

Dinner was über boring. We had leftovers from last night’s dinner, the Zesty Italian pot roast. It was, if possible, even better today! In case you forgot what it looked like, here’s the pot roast:

This was so delicious!

Delicious again!

I also had a (non-photographed) carrot with peanut butter since I was low on veggies for the day. I’ll probably have a Dark Ferraro Rocher for dessert during Grey’s Anatomy.

OH! I also want to give a big thank you to my friend Julie over at Flip This Body for the shout out today! I’m so glad you liked the recipe site 🙂 Also, a huge thank you for all the well-wishes. So far this antibiotic seems to be working well, and I’m finally feeling like myself again!

QOTD: How do you avoid overeating at free food events? I almost always try the “eat before I get there” thing, but then I just end up eating twice. Any hints for me?