Chicken and Orzo Soup (Slow Cooker)

I already love my slow cooker. (Thanks, Dad!)

photo (2)Crock-pots may perhaps be one of the best inventions ever. How did I not have one until now?

They are ridiculously easy to use since you just plop all of the ingredients into the pot and let it sit. Plus, when everything was cookin’ away, it made the apartment smell so good. 

Here’s my first slow cooker experiment! I hope you like it as much as Tuna and I did.

We though it was delish and quite hearty. Too bad I discovered this recipe as soon as it is spring/summer!

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Recipe adapted from 365 Days of Slow Cooking. 

Makes 4-6 servings

Note: I used a 4 quart slow cooker size.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup orzo

Directions:

Dice veggies and cut up chicken breast into pieces.

Place chicken, chicken broth, celery, onion, carrot, tomato paste, tomatoes, garlic, basil, bay leaf, salt, and pepper into slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

Add in the orzo and cook on high for about 15-20 minutes.

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*****

Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW! 

I Blew It

Welp, I blew it.

You guys know I took the two weeks after the Shamrock Half Marathon off of running.

But what you didn’t know is that I didn’t step foot in the gym once, and ate like complete shit. Half a pizza, a ridiculous amount of cookies, etc. Everything tasted really good, but my body wasn’t having it.

Not only did I feel like a beached whale, I was constantly tired and got a bunch of canker sores.

It seems I go all in or… to the opposite extreme when it comes to clean eating/exercising.

Not okay.

Lesson learned. I’m sorry, body!

I am not doing this again. Next time I finish a race, I’ll take a DAY or two off of working out, and eat ONE damn piece of cake, not three.

I really don’t want to have to keep starting over at a shitty fitness level every time I  take a break after an event or race. Not that I’m training for a huge race right now, but we can all agree it’s never fun to lose your endurance. Building up those first few miles when you’re out of shape are not fun.

Last week I slowly started working out again.

Monday: 3 miles at the park

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: My own personal spin class, arms, abs @ Crunch

Thursday: Yoga DVD

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 5 miles on the trail near Tuna’s

[With my sweet Shamrock running hat. Dorky? I don’t care. I love.]

shamrockhat15milerSunday: Hungover

This week I’m focusing on getting my act together re. eating clean. One step at a time.

I’m starting from square one (alright, maybe like square 3) but I’m going for it. Expect lots more miles and a bunch of fruit and veggies in the next few weeks.

Do you take breaks after races?

How do you stick to your diet? Do you ever cheat?

Friday’s Five

1) Learning a new cooking lesson.

Make sure to check the ingredients you need before you start cooking/baking something. I realized after I started mixing everything that the applesauce for the applesauce bread I was making was moldy. Foul. #bakingfail

2) My brand-new crock-pot.

For my b-day last week, my dad gave me the crock-pot that Julie recommended. I can’t wait to start trying Pinterest recipes!

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3) Figuring out the best post-gym dinner in the world.

An egg white omelet covered in cilantro and V8.  Please don’t judge my ugly omelet. I’m still learning.

photo (1)4) Discovering Bejeweled.

So I think I’m a little late in the game with this (pun intended), but I cannot stop playing. My mom showed me this app while I was in Durham and I played it almost the whole way home on the train! It’s almost as addictive as Instagram.

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5) This article that reminded me why I [try] to eat clean.

I especially like the explanation the third guru gives.

What is ONE thing you loved/hated about this week?

Watt’s Grocery

It seems that all of the places to eat in Durham end in “market” or “grocery.”

Maybe that’s a hint to how local and self-produced all of the food is – referencing the small distance between the farm and the table. I’m cool with that.

wattsgrocery8I liked that they show all of the farms that the food comes from on their menus.

wattsgrocery4My mom’s bf got the sazerack. I tried it and was not a fan.

wattsgrocery3I was, however, a fan of the pomegranate margarita – both my mom and I ordered one. I liked the little seeds peeking through the ice!

wattsgrocery7We split the Farmer’s Cheese Hushpuppies for an app.

wattsgrocery21. It came with basil mayo that was insane.

2. The hushpuppies had jalapeños. I approve.

Can you guess which one I picked?

wattsgrocery6Yup, the pan roasted chicken. My mom had a bite and said, “that is the best chicken ever.” There’s those pecans again!

I’m adding sauteed mustard greens to my tried and I didn’t like, no thanks list.

If you’re ever in Durham, Watt’s Grocery is definitely a place you need to try.

Foster’s Market

Has anyone been to Foster’s Market in Durham before?

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“Foster’s Market is a gourmet food market and cafe, focusing on scratch made soups, salads, casseroles, sandwiches and more. Everything is made in house, we even roast the turkey for our sandwiches. It is nearly impossible to describe Foster’s with one set definition. We are a restaurant, coffee bar, specialty food store and catering company. We also make gift baskets and sell products on our online store.”

Cool fact: Sara Foster started her career working for my fav, Martha Stewart.

We went there for a late lunch on Saturday and it was sooo good.

I ordered the house roasted turkey breast sandwich.

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I was proud of myself – I didn’t switch up anything on the menu and didn’t do a “create your own” sandwich like I normally would at a place like this. Didn’t even nix the basil mayo!

This is a huge step for my picky-meter. 

We got the deviled eggs for an little appetizer while we waited for our sandwiches.

Just like pecans, deviled eggs were everywhere in Durham.

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To quote Tuna, don’t these look amaze-balls?

Best deviled eggs I’ve ever had.

My mom’s bf thought that there might have been some pickle juice in them – but we didn’t think so.

Turns out he was right! It’s pretty awesome they have all of their recipes online. I know where I’m going to be getting my spring/summer recipes from!

Everything tasted ridiculously fresh.

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I couldn’t help but swipe a bag of chocolate covered pecans on our way out.

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I needed some more protein. Yeah.

Thanks to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens

After finishing up at the Durham Farmers’ Market, we moseyed on over to The Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University.

The Duke Gardens began in the 1930’s, and now spreads across 55 acres of west campus.

It was the absolute perfect day for a trip to the gardens: gorgeous and 65 degrees out. I couldn’t help but take an absurd amount of pictures.

The cherry blossoms aren’t blooming yet in Washington, but they sure were here!

cherryblossom1cherryblossom2I am jeal that my mom gets to live near these gardens! Cross-training here would definitely be more picturesque than the inside of the gym.

I was surprised how big the gardens were. Each trail led us to a bigger space of land than the one before it.

bridgegardens1We finally got to the flowers – obvi my favorite part.

gardens2flowers3The koi pond is supposedly filled with water lilies during the summer.

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gardens3The smell was amazing.

gardens5gardens6flowers2gardens7We came across this quaint little gardener’s cottage toward the top of the terrace.

restrooms2And proceeded to take a bunch of photos in front of it.

restrooms1When we were satisfied, we turned around to leave, and my mom pointed out the sign.

restrooms3Whoops.

We have a lot of good pics to frame – but all in front of the bathroom, nbd.

Don’t mind me, just continuing to play photog at the garden center.

gardencenter1Though my allegiance lies elsewhere, I have to admit that Duke has it’s pretty parts!

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Durham Farmers’ Market

This past weekend, I trained it down to North Carolina.

2013-03-29 11.15.43My mom recently moved to Durham, so I went to visit her for Easter weekend.

Durham is an old southern city built around tobacco production and is home to Duke University.

Now, Durham is ranked the “Foodiest Small Town in America,” and is full of trendy southern restaurants and food trucks. It also has a growing local food movement.

One of the first things we did while I was there was explore the Durham Farmers’ Market.

durhamcentralparkThe Durham Farmers’ Market features all-local produce and goods from farms within 70 miles of the Durham city limits. Click here to see a few reasons why buying local is the way to go.

This weekend was the week before the main spring/summer season, so I figured there wouldn’t be too many vendors with fresh goods to sell.

farmersmarket2Boy, was I wrong.

Even though it was a preview of the bigger farmers’ market in the weeks to come, there were tons of people there! My mom kept saying that it looked like a festival. It seems as though Durham’s foodies are an enthusiastic bunch.

farmersmarket1 67 vendors were busy selling items that they produced themselves.

There were so many vegetables for sale that I didn’t know what half of them were! See mystery vegetable number 1:

mysteryvegetableEach week, a local chef cooks in the center of the market, showing how to create dishes with ingredients that are in season.

chef1Free range eggs for me, please!

farmfreshMost farmers’ markets don’t just sell food – they sell other natural and organic items too, including soap, lip balm, clothing, etc.

soapI was loving the free samples!

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organicveggiesHave you ever seen such a long line FOR KALE?

lineforkale1Not only is the produce at local farmers’ markets really good for you, it’s cheaper than grocery stores! (A common misconception).

kaleBefore this weekend, if you asked me what a pecan looked like still in it’s shell, I couldn’t tell you.

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Pecans were everywhere in Durham. I think it’s a southern thing.

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2013-03-30 11.56.22loofasThat’s not all. There was a whole second section of the farmers’ market: the food truck section.

foodtruck1pies1I had to stop for some shaved ice from Sweet Water.

iceI sampled the pistachio flavor – look how green!

pistachioicecreamBut I ended up choosing watermelon. Delish.

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pretzels2My mom’s bf went straight for the pretzel truck. The gouda pretzel was just about the best thing ever.

pretzels3foodstruck2I’m really glad I got to experience the Durham Farmers’ Market because it reminded me of how good the food and produce is at farmers’ markets. It was the perfect inspiration to scope out the different ones around D.C. this spring and summer!

To find a local farmers’ market near you, go to: www.localharvest.org/