The Best of Everything

by fitforthesoul in ,


There are so many happenings and good eats that I want to share with you on a daily basis, but for whatever reason (I blame time) I seldom seem to be able to make it and end up letting another day go past me without posting.  Yesterday was one of those days because of a class that I’m currently taking and I was just itching to share about our Monday date-day.  I have to admit though…I’m proud of myself for holding up on that and exercising some self control. Like I just mentioned, on Monday Greg and I had a much needed time of just being together and relaxing in some of the ways that we most enjoy.  We were beyond thankful for having taken the time to relax because we all need some time off from our daily routines.  And besides, surprisingly on Monday everything that we did just went the right way.  Let me explain what I mean by that… Although I don’t mention it on the blog, almost everything we do together whether that entails going hiking, eating, finding a fun movie to watch, it never seems to be an easy task.  Either we can’t find the entrance of the hiking trail or we get lost out in the boonies and end up stressing out about dinner.  Last Monday, however, was a completely different story! Yayyy.

My day started off with a cold oat “cereal” bowl.

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As soon as I woke up I was experiencing a lack of appetite that is quite foreign to me because belieeeeeve me!  I’m one of those people whose stomach grumbles the moment I open my eyes in the morning, but with pregnancy’s intriguing symptoms affecting my appetite lately, nothing sounded good—almost to the point where I was contemplating going without breakfast that day.  So I did the next best thing I could think of!  As soon as I got to the kitchen I read Kath’s blog for inspiration because her breakfast pictures never fail to make me hungry.  Lo and behold, she featured a bowl of cold oat cereal that was inspired by Gina, and so I made my own version of it since I’ve been out of protein powder, which is one of the main ingredients that Gina used.  Well, the verdict?  It was amazing!!!  I may sound like a freak for obsessing over a breakfast bowl, but when food is one of the few comforts you’ve got during pregnancy you just have to roll with it. Winking smile

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On Monday (and everyday lately) I also made myself a cup of tea with this refreshing blend of green tea that Emily brought me from Granada, Spain!  Since my stomach was being so finicky that day I figured that something minty and refreshing would do the trick, and it definitely worked its magic because I started to feel better.  And as if things couldn’t get better, Greg had no problem finding this awesome 1 mile hiking trail just about 18 minutes from our home!

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It’s called the Del Cerro Park which is located in Rancho Palos Verdes, overlooking the beautiful ocean and cool enough thanks to the sea breeze.  This time around we had no problem finding the trail head which is a huge deal for this direction impaired couple!

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We both agreed that this trail is hilly enough to give you a decent workout while being tame enough for pregnant women.  The level of challenge was just the right amount and although the trail itself didn’t change scenery drastically, the view overlooking the ocean was enough to make us want to go back again.  We’re so excited that we finally found a nature-filled place in our whereabouts!

And then…The best food happened….

Greg yelped for an Italian restaurant in the Rancho Palos Verdes area and ended up going to a little quaint eatery called The Appetizer.  The atmosphere reminded me so much of the little Argentinean shops that I used to frequent as a kid, and the food tasted exactly like Argentinean cuisine!

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Like I mentioned a long time ago, Argentinean cuisine has a strong Italian influence due to the country being mainly composed of Italian people.  Aside from Baci where we visited a few months ago, this place has the best pasta I’ve had in 13 years.  Yes, 13 sad years my friends.  I started off with a simple salad drizzled with an herby Italian vinaigrette.

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We had their famous garlic bread along with these two dishes.

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[Sorry for the blurry picture—I was running out of batteries!]

I ordered the gnocchi dish with regular marinara sauce and two huge meatballs.  These meatballs weren’t like any other meatballs I've ever had—these were extra moist and and super tender with the right amount of seasoning.  The gnocchi was perfectly cooked and tasted really fresh, as if they had just finished grinding the potatoes and kneading the dough right before I got there.  My dish took me back to childhood indeed!

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Greg’s pizza was really delicious as well.  Although it looks like a normal pepperoni pizza, it was anything but.  The pepperoni was soft and didn’t taste burnt like most pizza pepperoni does.  The cheese was so melty that I couldn’t cut if off as I helped myself to a slice.  The meat crumbles are little pieces of sausage which added flavor to the meal, and the crust had a perfect texture because it was still crunchy, yet doughy all a the same time.

Phew!  Too much good stuff if you ask me. Smile with tongue out

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a blessed day!

If you blog, do you wish you could share or post more often?  What times work the best for you?

Are there good hiking trails where you live?

What’s the best thing you ate this week?

Love,

Ellie <33


The Best Restaurant Baked Potato Soup

by fitforthesoul in , ,


Ever had one of those days when all you wish for is a good leisurely hour, simply lounging al fresco with a strong cup of coffee paired with a buttery croissant and a good book to read? I can attest to the fact that oftentimes, more often than not, I daydream about strolling through the streets of Paris all while trying to find my way past the quaint little Parisian shops.  So what shops does Ellie stumble upon in her vivid little imagination?  She obviously finds a really good bakery and plants herself right in front of the pastries! And that’s exactly what I did today, my friends.  Well it didn’t go like that exactly 100 percent…something more like, Torrance meets super cool French bakery where everything is a bit overpriced but delicious nonetheless type of deal.  But as usual, more on the bakery later. Winking smile

Since Wednesday is coming to a close and I have enough time to spare today, why don’t we go ahead and do a little sharing for What I Ate Wednesday?

Breakfast

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I had a quick waffle breakfast before heading out to work this morning, except I had some more fruit on the side instead of the turkey bacon.  By the way, I may not be the greatest fan of bacon but there’s something about the turkey version that jives with me!  And please excuse this recycled picture.

Snack

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My snack mid-morning was a handful of crisp juicy grapes, which was just what my body needed because I felt kind of overheated when I was at work.  It’s so strange how my hormones are causing my body to feel warmer than everyone else’s and I can’t tell what’s cold or hot anymore, haha.

Lunch

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I always prefer to pack my lunch when I go to work because not only does it save me money (and allows me to buy a delicious treat every now and then), but it helps me feel satisfied and not sluggish since I usually pack healthy food with fresh ingredients. In my opinion, there’s nothing as draining as food coma when I’m trying to get important work done and only half my brain seems to be doing all the work.  So this time I threw together a huge salad full of greens, avocado, tomato, pepperocini slices, vanilla blueberry goat cheese, a pan fried egg and balsamic dressing.  It’s so simple to make, yet it has become one of my favorite meals!

L’Amande Bakery

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Now let’s talk about that French bakery.  Shall we?

During my lunch break I kind of wanted something flaky and buttery before going back to work.  I also wanted to just relax somewhere outside where I could spend some time reading.  Then I remembered that bakery café that I pass by whenever I shop at Trader Joe’s and ordered this amazing croissant.

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But this isn’t just any croissant.  This is L’Amande Bakery’s very popular pistachio croissant which has chunks of pistachio baked on top and the most delicious pistachio filling I’ve ever tried.  Well, I’ve never actually had pistachio filling but if this is what it always tastes like, then I’m down for another one of these glorious pastries.  The filling had the perfect texture of creamy slash crunchy, and the sweetness level wasn’t overwhelming at all!

Dinner

Yesterday I cooked up a large pot of baked potato soup in honor of one of my favorite dishes at Corner Bakery Café.

Although this bowl of goodness may look super heavy and unhealthy since it’s so unbelievably “creamy”, it was anything but.  On the contrary, it fortunately turned out satisfying even without all the heavy ingredients that most recipes call for.  I reduced the amount of certain ingredients as well as substituted some in order to make this into a lighter version.  This was a successful first attempt since both Greg and I loved it so much!  Phew.

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Restaurant Baked Potato Soup {Healthy and Lower Fat}

Whenever I want to make a dish healthier than the traditional way of preparing it, I normally tend to use lots of spices and chicken or vegetable broth.  Many times I use vegetable bouillon, which is what I added to this recipe to make the soup extra flavorful.  If you don’t have bouillon on hand, you can easily substitute it with 4 cups of broth and simply omit the water.

Adapted from this recipe.  Makes approximately 5-6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips of turkey bacon
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter (or salted, but omit some salt in recipe)
  • 3 TBSP white flour
  • 3 C milk (I used 2%)
  • 4 C water
  • 1 cube of vegetable bouillon
  • 3 russet potatoes with skin
  • 1/4 C onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt or more, to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar
  • 6 stems of green onion, chopped (save some for garnish)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and chop the potatoes to about 1x1” in size.  Bake them in a pan for approximately 8-10 minutes.  Take out and set it aside.
  2. Cook the turkey bacon strips on a skillet until they’re crispy on both sides.  Chop them into small pieces and set aside.
  3. In a large pot on medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour so it becomes thick.  Slowly add the milk and keep stirring to prevent clumps.
  4. Add the water, bacon, bouillon, potatoes, onion, and salt and pepper.  Bring it down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes while stirring every now and then.
  5. Add the green onion, yogurt, and cheddar for 4 minutes or until it blends together smoothly.  If you prefer less potato chunks and more puree, then you can mash them a bit with a potato masher while they’re still in the pot.
  6. Garnish with fresh green onions and voila!

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I had another bowl for tonight’s dinner and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Open-mouthed smile

I hope you have a blessed night and seize the day!

What’s your favorite soup at a restaurant?  Have you tried Corner Bakery Café?

-I normally love brothy and tomato-y soups, but baked potato soup is probably my favorite creamy soup

What foods do you splurge on?

Love,

Ellie <33


Back to 1833

by fitforthesoul in , ,


And we are back! Alrighty, so we’ve actually been back since late Monday night from our super mini trip to Big Sur.  With all the speeding driving, hiking, and eating our way through Big Sur and Monterey,  a city about 40 minutes away from Big Sur which was our final destination, we came back home wiped out!  It was the good kind of wiped out though.  You know, the kind where you feel like you’ve earned your rest after the ultimate experience of being out in the wild, and then walking for several miles with a big ol’ belly that makes you feel like you’re walking with a weighted vest?  Haha!  I perceive you know what I mean by now. Smile

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As soon as we arrived at the Monterey-Marriott hotel at around 7 o’clock, we quickly changed into our fancy date night outfits because Greg had made some reservations at a restaurant.

Fortunately, I found this simple yet beautiful dress at Destination Maternity last month while it was on sale.  Don’t be too surprised if you see this dress more than once on the blog, since I’ll probably wear it for upcoming events because I’m quite limited as to what I can wear as my stomach grows larger.

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I have to be honest that man, I felt so feminine and somewhat presentable in this dress, as I hadn’t felt like that in a long time!  I’m not sure if other expectant women feel the same way as often as I do, but it’s definitely not easy getting used to not feeling very ‘feminine’ during these 9 months of carrying my blessed bundle of joy.  Read:  feeling like a penguin ready to pop out of my leggings. Smile with tongue out  Of course, those are just my own thoughts and perception.

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Greg reserved a cute and romantic spot for us at a placed called Restaurant 1833, which is located at the end of the downtown strip of the charming little city.  As you can tell from the picture above and the unique name of the restaurant, this location is rather captivating because of its rustic feel.  Everything seems to have been kept the same since the year 1833, except of course, they have maintained the place very clean and up to date in terms of necessary facilities and furnishings.

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Restaurant 1833’s weekly menu is an extensive one, but since we were there on Sunday night, they gave us a condensed one instead.  I actually liked the fact that I didn’t have to overwhelm myself with too many menu items!

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Every server that we came in contact with raved about their famous fried chicken.  Fried chicken?!  In a fancy place like this?!  Yep folks, it seems to be a hit with all of their customers and naturally, Greg couldn’t pass up on that opportunity to try one of the best friend chicken dishes ever.  As soon as we ordered our food our amazingly knowledgeable and kind waiter brought us deviled eggs.  Now, I love eggs in all shapes and sizes and Greg does not, so he made me suggested that I eat them both.  Yep, he totally had to force me to do that.  (Note the sarcasm, hehe)

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Our order of small plates consisted of these ooey gooey bacon and cheddar biscuits!  They were pillowy like a soft cloud and perfectly savory with tiny pieces of bacon studded into the batter, and bacon is not even something I’m crazy about when I eat it by itself!  But much to my surprise I have to admit that the bacon is what made these biscuits taste so unique.

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So Greg got his herb-y fried chicken placed on a bed of gritty corn bread.  Although we’re not used to eating foods quite this heavy, let alone so gloriously dripping in oil, we have to admit that it was one of the best fried chicken dishes we’ve had!  The texture of the skin was so perfectly crispy and full of flavor, and the meat was so tender that it literally slid off the bone.

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I went with this delicious Cod fish that had a base of Yukon potatoes, tomatoes and mussels all simmered in a reduced sauce that tasted like corn chowder.

Both of us highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Monterey!

Out in Nature

On Monday morning we headed out to Big Sur to do some hiking and exploring out in nature.

Since we wanted a lighter option for lunch, we stopped by Subway to get a sandwich for Greg and a refreshing salad for me.

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Our original plan was to go down to the shore and then hike our way through the Julia Pfeiffer trail to enjoy some beautiful waterfalls!  But then things got super confusing once we got there and ended up going on the Pfeiffer Falls trail!  Big difference you guys, so if you plan on seeing some really pretty waterfalls, we recommend that you don’t get the two hiking routes mixed up.  Smile with tongue out

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Even so, we managed to have a wonderful time talking about life, laughing about the silliest things, smelling the blossoming greenery, and taking in all of our surroundings.

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This was Greg’s face after we found out that we arrived at the wrong waterfall, hah!  It was so tiny that when we were making our way back down and a group of hikers asked us if this was the path to the waterfalls, Greg’s response was, “well, if you can even call it a waterfall”, and they just cracked up!  They thanked him for setting their expectations straight before they even got to their destination.

Now I can’t believe how fast this week is flying by!  I hope it slows down a bit because I still have things to catch up on.

Do you prefer rustic type settings or more modernized restaurants?

Any interesting stories about hiking?

-Greg and I always manage to get lost somehow.

Love,

Ellie <33


Date Night

by fitforthesoul in , , ,


As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Monday is usually date night for me and Greg, and I can happily say that 99% of the time we’ve been really good at keeping it that way!  Even if we have other important things to take care of, which we end up doing earlier in the day anyway, we still do our best to at least go out to dinner or take a walk wherever the road leads.  Of course, date night is never a forced aspect of our marriage because we truly do enjoy it and look forward to it each week, and besides, delicious food is always present!  So what’s not to like? Winking smile DSC05799

Woops!  Caught him chewing his food.  But he’s still so handsome Winking smile

Yesterday was no different as we made our way to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica without a real set plan.  We kept it simple by satisfying our craving for a basic—but delicious nonetheless—American meal at Johnny Rockets.  Although I’ve never been the biggest fan of burgers and the all too popular classic American meal, lately I’ve been more than okay with having it whenever my stomach feels like it could handle all the meat [and potatoes] and bread, especially if Greg is craving it!  Boy, he must be happy about my pregnancy because it’s making me do and eat things that I wouldn’t otherwise!

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Greg ordered a regular cheeseburger while I went with something spicy.  Of course.

I got The Houston burger, which is basically a regular burger sandwiching their oh-so-perfectly-thick patty with all the fix-ins plus spicy jalapenos and a good measure of their special buffalo sauce.  I always like to order those kinds of special sauces on the side though, so that way I can control how much goes in it.  And obviously, I just had to ask for lots of mustard since I kind of can’t live without it.  We were both more than satisfied with our food as it hit the spot, and I'm pretty sure Selah didn't complain either.

After walking through the Promenade and popping into several stores like Zara, Guess, Aldo, and some men’s shoe stores, we both ended up wanting quite a few items that are out of our budget, not to mention that it really made me miss regular clothing!  Although I’m extremely grateful for this pregnancy and Selah’s arrival in June, I also can’t lie that I’m looking forward to feeling normal again…and wearing regular clothes again… Smile

Anyway, coming back from that tangent.

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This plate of fluffy deliciousness was also consumed last night.  We decided to have dessert at Café Crepe and devoured a crepe with nutella, banana, and hazelnut chunks!  The chunks truly made this dish in my opinion, and the vanilla ice cream balanced it out.  This reminds me…sometime soon I should make my healthy buckwheat crepes for breakfast!  I guess I will be going on a crepe excursion very soon because I haven’t had those in way too long.

Last night was a simple but great evening full of walking, talking, and people watching, which is pretty much what we love to do anyway!  I know, we’re so wild.

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This morning I toasted two waffles topped with sunflower seed butter, coconut butter, greek yogurt, and fruit.  On the side I had a strip of turkey bacon.  Great way to start the day if you’re trying to save some time in my opinion.

1 Year Anniversary

Oh my goodness I cannot believe how fast time flies!  I feel like I got sucked into some warp zone where I got married yesterday and got spit back out today, haha.

We actually got married last year on March 24th and this coming Sunday will mark our 1ST ANNIVERSARY!!!  We’re planning to drive up to Big Sur on Saturday afternoon and come back on Monday; however, things are getting a bit complicated in our personal lives (not our relationship, other stuff) and we’re now hoping that things work out in favor of this trip as I have reserved the hotel and everything.  We’re just trying to make the best of our situation and thank God despite any circumstances, even if it means us potentially not going anywhere far.  Either way (and thankfully so), we enjoy each other’s presence more and more with each passing day, and I feel like that in itself disproves any claim that marriages will eventually end up growing cold and less “fun” 5 years from now.  Sure, things will inevitably happen and we’re still newlyweds, so we haven’t seen things that older couples may have experienced, but we’re firm believers that marriage should/can be just as wonderful 20 years from now as it was on the day that we said ‘I do’ on March 24, 2013.  We have no doubt that with God as the center of our lives this marriage can only thrive from here on out.  Although no marriage out there is perfect, including ours, we’ve learned that it’s the LITTLE things that truly make a HUGE difference!  A simple “I’m so proud of how far you’ve come”, a nice chat on the couch, or even a nice home cooked meal together can make such a monumental difference in keeping the marriage sweet.  Smile  I may still be young, but that’s what I’ve witnessed in old couples that I admire as well!  Now, that has to have some truth to it don’t you think?

So we’re crossing our fingers that we can go up to Big Sur, but if that doesn’t happen, oh well.

Do you enjoy classic American meals, or are you more of the variety type of person?

-I’m definitely a lover of variety!  But lately simple foods like burgers have been more than welcome!

Do you believe that marriages and relationships can grow sweeter through the years?  I hope so!

Love,

Ellie <33