Broccoli and Cheddar Quinoa Bake

I was nervous about this one.

Why? Because it was an experiment.

I need to keep experimenting with food….because this recipe is AWESOME – if I do say so myself.


Looking at Pinterest gave me the usual inspiration that it does with recipes like this one and this one.

I subbed out some of the ingredients that I don’t like (parm, cream of mushroom soup), with some like cheddar and vegetable stock.

When it went in the oven, I wasn’t so sure.

broccoliquinoabake3But I’m starting to think that anything with cheese on it is going to be good. So it turned out alright.

broccoliquinoabake5Actually, it turned out like I’m going to be baking it and devouring it quite often.

This dish screams coming back for thirds seconds.


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack)
  • 10 oz vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat chipotle mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp Splenda
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp wheat bread crumbs


Cook quinoa.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Spray a shallow 9×13 glass Pyrex casserole dish (that’s just what I used, you could probably use any pan) with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetable broth, mayonnaise, milk, 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese, Splenda, and pepper until mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.

Pour mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/8 cup cheese on the top and bake for 30 minutes.

Take out the dish, sprinkle 1/8 cup cheese and bread crumbs on top for some crunch. Put back in the oven and take for 10 more minutes (40 minutes total).

broccolicheddarquinoabake4Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

1 Minute Repeats Circuit Workout

Can you tell I’m having fun making circuit workouts?

I don’t know what the best part is:

– Working out in a sports bra as a top and not caring
Not driving to the gym
– Being entertained by trashy reality TV during a workout

I like all of those things.

Last week I went to a group class at Crunch with my friend Mal and it was lots of fun to learn some new toning moves. Too bad I have yet to buy a kettlebell or dumbells, since a lot of the exercises that the instructor showed us in the class used them. But for now, I don’t mind improvising without equipment!

I worked good sweat from this circuit – and let myself rest for a few minutes in between each set.

1 Minute Repeat Circuit Workoutmain1

What are jump ups? I made them up. I see people at the gym doing crossfit workouts jumping up on stool-things, so my plastic stool from my bunk bed dorm room days got its own workout.

To do this move, jump up on a stool – or anything, really! Then jump back down. I do about thirty reps in one minute.

stepupsI’m pretty sure my booty will be sore tomorrow! 😉

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bites

So in true CNG style, this is basically the easiest “recipe” ever.

Step 1: Take a dark chocolate chip.

Step 2: Shove it inside of a raspberry.

And you’re done!

I used big ol’ chips that broke apart the raspberries a bit, so next time I shall use the mini kind.

darkchocolatechips These yummy bites aren’t even a guilty pleasure because dark chocolate is good for you.

darkchocolateraspberrybites2They were the perf little snack to bring to book club last week and disappeared shortly after my arrival. 🙂

choclateraspberrybitesThanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Slow Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

I finally remembered that I own a crock-pot and that I need to USE it!

This was the first time I tried cooking full chicken breasts with the crock-pot and love love loved how easy it was. Plus, no futzing around with raw meat – I dumped the chicken right from the plastic into the pot.


I looked up some generic recipes for cooking chicken in the crock pot and altered it to what I had in the fridge. (Whenever I make something new, Tuna has started asking me, “Are you going to make it with everything the recipe says?)

Cooking in the crock-pot gives everything so much more flavor! Since I haven’t been able to perfect baked chicken breast in the oven, I was relieved for a better tasting – and easier – solution.

The only downside is that you need to plan ahead because most crock-pot recipes call for at least 4 hours of cooking time.

Added side effect: this recipe fills up your house apartment with wonderful smells.


Serves 2-3


  • 1.3 lbs chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste


Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart crock-pot. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

roastedredpepperchicken3Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Hilly Improvisation

Last week’s abbreviated vacation at Smith Mountain Lake was the perfect nibble of relaxation.

sml4I don’t know why I had visions of flat ground in my mind since the year before proved to have some pretty hard runs on winding country roads – but I did.

sml3Before I left for vacay, I declared to myself that I was going to use the extra down time to get some good workouts in.

Of course my original plan was to wake up at the crack of dawn (isn’t it always?) and enjoy the misty solace of the birds chirping while getting a trillion miles in.

Fast forward to more like 9:00am, immediate mugginess, and rolling hill after rolling hill.

These photo are legit lying. I swear the STEEP STEEP hill I ran up was not a mirage. I’m blaming it on bad photography.

sml5The second day of vacation I fared a little better – 8:50am wake up call, with the determination of running hill repeats. I had to work with what I got.

sml6After a quickie warm up, I ran down the .3 mile hill….and back up again to my water bottle hanging out by our house’s mailbox.


smlrun1Need a HIIT workout? Hill repeats’ll do it.

smlrunhillsBy the time I was sufficiently sweaty, my dad came out with his dog to greet me.

shiloh1She was so cute and I loved running the last hill repeat with her! It was my first time really running with a dog and it made it so much more fun.

It also didn’t hurt that she basically pulled me on the way up. My third hill was almost a whole minute faster than the others. Thanks, Shiloh!

shiloh2So it was decreed: Smith Mountain Lake had enough hills to last me awhile.

Bring on the flat swampland, D.C.!

Star-Cut Watermelon

Don’t have enough skill time to whip up a gorgeous red, white, and blue cake to take to a 4th of July barbecue?

I don’t either.

Thank gawwwd summertime allows for fruit to be a more than acceptable potluck dish. I may not be a master baker, but I can cut up fruit.

This year I was feeling a little extra festive and came to the conclusion that plain old squares of watermelon were just not fancy enough.


Too bad I forgot to look for a legit star cookie cutter at the store. But I wasn’t going to let that deter me from forcing this melon to be snazzy.

Luckily cookie cutters are only kind of hard to cut and re-bend. Sorry, no Christmas tree shaped cookies this year.

Instead, we will have fucked up stars.


It’s the thought that counts, right?