Pilates and Productivity

For the first time basically ever I accomplished everything on my to do list for the day. Granted, it basically included doing Pilates, unpacking, cleaning, my room, hanging out with my sister and nephews, and making dinner, but still, I am excited.
Which brings me to a good piece of advice: make really short and easily accomplished to do lists if you want to feel awesome about yourself.
I am not good at sticking to workouts. I get bored super easily. I always want to be one of those super yoga/pilates/kickboxing/(insert workout here) people, but after one or two of those workouts I am ready to move onto the next thing. The worst is usually workout DVDs because by the second or third time I know what is coming which just lessens my enthusiasm and makes me cringe as I anticipate the hard moves. BUT, I have finally found a pilates DVD that I love and have been doing every Thursday for the past 4 months. Say whaaaa? It is so exciting to slowly be able to do the moves better and really enjoy the whole workout. I love this pilates DVD because, despite doing the same moves each time you can make it more and more difficult as you get stronger and better!
Pumped and ready to rock and roll with my Gaiam 5 day fit Pilates Video. 

There are 5 different videos but I usually just do two of them. There is a short 15 minute routine for beginners that I always start with to get warmed up. Then I take on video number 3. I don’t know what it is really for, but she is sitting on a beach, so that is nice :). Unfortunately, I have yet to do this video on a beach :(.

So, I highly recommend this DVD. I have been trying out all sorts of pilates routines and this is the only one that has kept me going. It moves quickly so it keeps your attention throughout and I always finish feeling energized and ready to go which is awesome!
On another note, I made dinner and it was SO good. One of those meals that I had been craving and therefore it totally hit. the. spot. I love chicken nuggets. This is probably because I love ketchup and what better vessel for ketchup than chicken nuggets? Weirdly enough though I am not a fan of fried food and never grew up seeing my mom fry so to me chicken nuggets=baked. So I made these awesome panko crusted baked chicken nuggets.
For the Chicken Nuggets/Strips I used the standard breading procedure (flour, egg wash, breadcrumb), but was inspired by: this website
 I really like the way she flavored the components of the breading procedure. I changed the recipe a bit based on what I had:
2 Large Chicken Breasts cut into strips
1 ¼ cups toasted panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
3 eggs whites
1 tbsp water
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp whole grain mustard
2 tsp fresh thyme
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Toast the breadcrumbs in a skillet and put them in wide bowl.
3. Whisk the egg whites with some water and the Dijon and whole grain mustard
4. Mix the flour with the cayenne pepper and fresh thyme.
5. Roll each chicken strip in flower, dust off and then dip in egg whites and then beradcrumbs.
6. Place on sheet pan and bake until they reach an internal temperature of about 165. (And are golden brown crispy deliciousness
(You want to take them out right at that temperature so they are super juicy and tender.)
*I think a really important electronic in the kitchen is an instant read thermometer. This allows you to ensure things are cooked to the proper temperature, preventing unsafely underecooking, or doing the old “we’ll cook it a little longer (until it is chewy and dry) to be sure it’s done!”

My friend had been raving about this butternut squash tart, and it just so happened we had some farm garden fresh squash from our neighbor sitting in a dish on the counter, so I went for it.
Really incredible. I would highly recommend this. In fact, it would be a great addition to your holiday meals. An olive oil crust that you put on top of the butter nut squash and then flip onto a dish so that nothing is soggy.

Upside-Down Butternut Squash Tart
I got this recipe from my friend Emily and it is delicious!!!
(Use the Savory Olive Oil Tart Dough – press into a 9inch pan and chill)
Savory Olive Oil Press-In Tart Dough:

1 1/4 cups AP Flour
1 TBS sugar

1/2 tsp salt

6 TBS EVOO

3 TBS Ice Water

1. Mix dry ingredients together and then drizzle in olive oil (you can do this in a food processor if you want…pulsing as you drizzle in olive oil, but alas we do not have one so it’s the old fashioned way for me) Add more water if necessary. Dough should feel a bit sticky. Press into a tart pan and chill. (I used a cake pan, and I didn’t use the full amount of olive oil either.)
Tart:

1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise sliced into1/4 inch pieces
3 TBS Olive Oil

2 shallots, (I used a small onion)

1 tsp fresh thyme (I used fresh oregano and fresh rosemary because we had it in the backyard!!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1 oz grated Parmesan (1/2 cup)

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lay plastic wrap over 9 inch pan, then press the tart dough into it, cover with more plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes (I didn’t put the plastic wrap on, but I definitely would next time because it would make transferring it much easier. I also just put it in the fridge for about an hour or so because I knew I wasn’t going to be cooking it for a while.)
2. Once the squash is peeled and cut, toss the squash with everything but the cheese. Using the smaller pieces from the neck, overlap pieces in a tidy circle around the edge of the second 9 inch pan. Fill the center with more squash and lay the remaining squash evenly over the top. (I had to cut and maneuver a little bit to get it to lie in a flat layer…it is left raw, it will cook as the dough cooks) Press on the squash lightly to pack into an even layer. Sprinkle with Parmesan
3.  Top the squash with the chilled tart dough (this is the little secret which prevents the dough from getting soggy.  
4.  Bake until crust is golden, about 30-35 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a platter or cutting board. 

YUM! I might try some different things next time like mashing the butternut squash beforehand and incorporating some other veggies, to make it more substantial. Or you could make it more decadent by adding some goat cheese and reducing and drizzling some balsamic vinegar over top. Although it made an awesome side dish, super flavorful and delicious!!
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  1. Pingback: Work it out | An Apple A Day

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