Category Archives: Lunch

Southwestern Zucchini & Bean Saute

Who is glad it’s Friday?

I can’t even tell you how excited I am that this work week is almost over.  It’s been a longgggg past few days.  The downside is I’ll be busy catching up on my online class that I’ve been putting off for, ohhh let’s see, the last 5 weeks!

E Cards - School Procrastination Homework

Oh how I wish this was the case!  I have only ever taken one other online class and I thought it was a breeze!  Looking back, however, I’m realizing it was because I had an assignment or quiz due every week which helped keep me right on track.  BUT the current class I’m enrolled in has an incredibly loose structure.  Basically, we just have to finish all the assignments, papers, quizzes, tests, etc. on our own time by the end of the semester.

To tell ya the truth, after last semester being incredibly stressful, it felt great to take several weeks off but now I’m definitely regretting my decision.

nothing makes me more productive than the last minute 1

The only thing going for me is that I work well under pressure.  And trust me, I’m down to the wire. School will be my life for the next several weeks.  😦

With all that being said, let’s lighten the mood with a recipe, shall we?

Southwestern Zucchini & Bean Saute

southwestern zucchini and bean saute 6

Although I didn’t follow a recipe and just threw together a few ingredients, this veggie packed bowl came together surprisingly well.

southwestern zucchini and bean saute 8

In addition to the pinto beans, I scooped a heaping spoonful of plain Greek yogurt to amp up the protein, but I bet it would be delicious with some ground turkey or sliced sausage as well.

southwestern zucchini and bean saute 7b


Cooking spray or olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and then sliced

4 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup of frozen fire-roasted corn (can use regular too)

1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

Cilantro, chopped (optional)

Plain Greek yogurt (optional)


Saute the diced onion with a little olive oil or cooking spray over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes before adding the zucchini.  Cook for another 4-5 minutes until zucchini is tender crisp and add tomatoes.  Continue to move the veggies around the pan while they cook until desired “doneness”.  Mix in corn, pinto beans, and spices (through salt) until corn and beans are heated through.

southwestern zucchini and bean saute 1

Scoop into bowls and garnish with cilantro and yogurt (or sour cream) if desired.

southwestern zucchini and bean saute 5

southwester zucchini and bean saute 4

Hope you have a stressfree, relaxing weekend!!


WIAW #16: A Few Old Standbys

Happy Hump Day!

Hopefully, everyone is off to a great week so far!  I certainly can’t complain… the weather has been beautiful and the week seems to be flying by already. Keeping my fingers crossed the rest of the week does too!

What I Ate Wednesday (aka Tuesday)

Of course, since it’s Wednesday, I’ll keep up the usual WIAW posts so here we go…


I kicked off the day with an oldie but a goody.

overnight oats in a pb jar

Overnight oats with bananas and strawberries, all stuffed into a nearly empty peanut butter jar.  Not only is this jar concept absolutely delicious, but it saves me from washing an extra dish, score!

Mid Morning Snack

la croix and pb berry granola bar

Pretty familiar looking:  Coconut La Croix and a peanut butter berry granola bar.


turkey wrap

Whole wheat wrap with romaine lettuce, Cajun-style deli turkey, green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and yellow mustard.  I really loved the addition of the cucumbers which gave the wrap an extra crunch!

veggies for lunch

Plus, some fresh cut up cucumbers and red, orange, yellow bell peppers on the side.

Afternoon Snack

caprese salad snack

Caprese salad with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  I’ve been living off this stuff lately!


I had some zucchini and cilantro hanging out in the fridge that needed to be eaten up.

zucchini sauteAnd it just so happens what began as a way to use the produce turned into quite a fantastic meal!

zucchini saute2

I sauteed onion, zucchini, and fresh tomatoes with a few spices, before adding Trader Joe’s fire roasted frozen corn and canned pinto beans to the mix.  I then topped the veggie bowl with chopped parsley and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.  Simple and satisfying! 🙂

strawberries and cream dessert

As always, despite being full I wanted a little sweetness so I enjoyed a bowl of strawberries with a little cool whip and lemon wafers.  Great way to end the evening!

TJ’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix {2 Ways}

I am way overdue for another Trader Joe’s trip, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to make it a whole 4 miles there.  I mean, it’s so far and all! 😉

But I’ve also been long overdue to share one of my favorite purchases from the last trip.
Trader Joe's Groceries

As I was perusing the aisles last time, I grabbed a container of TJ’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix with no thoughts about how I planned to use it.

TJ's Healthy & Chopped Veggie Mix

It’s a combination of chopped broccoli, carrots, green cabbage, red cabbage, jicama, green bell pepper, radish, and celery.  The label suggests to use it “for salads, sauteing, or anytime you need fresh veggies”.  I wound up using the veggie mix in a salad two different ways.

Tj's veggie mix two wages2

I used the mix to create a Mediterranean-inspired pulled chicken salad, as well as a tuna salad chocked full of veggies.  Both crisp and refreshing, they are perfect for a summer picnic!

Mediterranean Inspired Pulled Chicken Salad

Tj's mix mediterranean chicken salad

In the mix:

  • Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix
  • Pulled/shredded chicken breasts
  • Chickpeas
  • Kalamata olives, chopped
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

TJ's mix mediterranean chicken salad5

I ate this both plain, as well as on top of baby spinach for an extra nutritional kick!

TJ's mix mediterranean chicken salad6

Tuna Salad

TJ's mix tuna salad3

In the mix:

  • Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix, pulsed a few times in a food processor
  • Canned tuna, drained
  • Green onions, finely chopped
  • Cranberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mix of yellow and dijon mustard
  • Plain greek yogurt
  • Salt & pepper

TJ's mix tuna salad5

I pulsed the veggies in the food processor for a finer consistency to mix better with the tuna.  Also, I may have been a little heavy handed with the mustard since I’m pretty much obsessed.  However, I’m sooo not a fan of mayonnaise or miracle whip, so I use a little plain greek yogurt it it’s place.

Tj's mix tuna salad2

Again, I ate this straight out of the bowl and also served it atop some mixed baby greens.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write down exact measurements but I think it’s better to use a little creativity once in a while.  Plus I believe it’s all based on personal preferences when it comes to something like this, and it’s really hard to screw up!

The best part about this product is it’s versatility.  I will definitely be buying it in the future!

WIAW #15: Full to the Max

Hello there!

Can we please talk about how it’s May already?  Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego did April go?

carmen sandiego


Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers Carmen Sandiego?!

Ahh well, ya know what ‘they’ say…. April showers bring May flowers.  And I think we’re all ready for flowers and warm weather.  At least I am!

What I Ate Wednesday

Not only is today the first day of May, but it’s also Wednesday so I guess another WIAW post is in order.  Click on this to see what it’s all about!


I skipped last week because a) I was too excited to share our update on the wedding plans, b) our fridge was nearly bare from being out of town (it took me a full week to finally go grocery shopping), and c) I was too darn lazy to photograph a single piece of food.  So there.

But WIAW is back today, let’s have a look.


I created an egg wrap to go for my car ride in to work.

egg wrap to go

I used to make these ALLLLL the time and then, I don’t know what happened?!  I just stopped all of a sudden – I tend to get stuck in breakfast ruts making the same thing over an over (aka yogurt bowls… don’t worry, still love ’em) but I figured it’s time to get a little crazy and ya know, mix things up a bit. 😉

And now that these bad boys have been reintroduced, they will definitely be back in the breakfast rotation!

egg wrap steps

Warm whole wheat tortilla with a Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge spread in the middle (I used French Onion this time) with 3 scrambled eggs in the middle and of course, lathered with Cholula sauce!  So. So. Good.

Mid Morning Snack

My wrap was quite filling so I wasn’t too hungry in between breakfast and lunch, but I packed a light snack and ate it about an hour before lunch.

snap peas and carrots

Baby carrots (which were super fat and not so ‘baby’-ish), plus sugar snap peas.  By the way, snap peas = amazing!  So crispy and crunchy 🙂


Monday night, at Dave’s request, I threw 2 lbs of chicken breasts into the crock pot to make a big ol batch of shredded buffalo chicken.  So of course, it made an appearance in my lunch the next day.


Yet another way to prep chicken ahead of time. 😉

leftover buffalo chicken - salad

Baby romaine salad, topped with a mix of roasted zucchini, summer squash and red onion, plus grape tomatoes, shredded buffalo chicken, lots of creamy goat cheese, and balsamic dressing.  Oh my goodness, this was soooo tasty!


And a ‘nana on the side.

Afternoon Snack

Per the usual, I needed something more to eat a few hours later.

pumpkin greek yogurt

Greek yogurt with canned pumpkin loosely stirred in and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.


I took advantage of the B-E-A-UTIFUL weather and ate dinner outside as the sun went down.  Ohhh and it made me crave summer that much more.  I think (I HOPE!) it’s finally here… 😉

turkey burger spaghetti squash

Underneath everything is roasted spaghetti squash and the remaining leftover roasted zucchini, summer squash and red onions, all topped with a generous serving of spicy marinara sauce.

turkey burger spaghetti squash 2

George grilled up a turkey breast and I then layered some marinara, mozzarella and fresh parmesan cheese on top and stuck under the broiler for a few minutes to melt.  I guess it was a spin off chicken parmesan… except with a turkey burger.  Oh yeah, and no breading.

This meal came together surprisingly well for being as hungry as I was!  I often envision a wonderfully put-together meal on my way home from work and then somewhere along the way, my hunger gets the best of me and kills the execution.  This was not the case.

The only issue with this meal is it left me uncomfortably full…

banana bite

…ummm that is, until I heard my name being called from the freezer, so I enjoyed a banana bite to round out the meal.


I mean, after all I still had room in my dessert stomach for a little sweetness! 😉

Have a fantastic Wednesday and Happy May 1st!

WIAW #14: Clean Out the Fridge

Soo I have a countdown posted in our house to keep track of the days until our mini-vacation in Florida.


And in case you were wondering… yes, I am fully aware I am acting like a child.  I’m just ecstatic to get out of this Chicago weather and take a break from reality for a few days. 🙂

What I Ate Wednesday

After Sunday’s feast with the family, the fridge is packed with leftovers and other food that needs to be eaten up before we leave on our trip.  Although I usually eat ‘leftovers’ in some form each day, this week has been especially dedicated to using up any and all food that might spoil while we’re gone.

If you’re unfamiliar with WIAW, check out the host, Peas and Crayons, to find out what it’s all about.


I skipped working out in the am yesterday in order to fit in an extra hour of sleep that my body so desperately needed.

leftover grilled veggies scrambled eggs

I sauteed up some red and orange bell peppers, along with Sunday’s grilled zucchini and summer squash, and topped with a few scrambled eggs and shredded Parmesan cheese.

PR Bar Peanut Butter Granola

About 20 minutes further into my drive, I was still hungry (probably because I slept through dinner the night before) so I dug out a Peanut Butter Granola PR Bar from my purse to enjoy with my coffee.

Mid Morning Snack

Breakfast satisfied me until about 10:30 and while I probably could’ve held off another hour or so until lunch, I ate the snack I packed anyways.

leftover mozzarella tomato avocado salad with basil dressing

Hmmm… not the most appetizing-looking but it was delicious!  Again from Sunday – tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad with homemade basil vinaigrette.  Love this combo!


Lunch looked a lot like breakfast, with a few substitutions.

leftover grilled veggies and chicken

Same veggie base, plus grilled chicken instead of eggs and this Mmmm Sauce instead of cheese.

Honestly, I have no idea how to go about explaining the flavor of this sauce, except that it is so darn good!!  The one downfall is it requires nutritional yeast which isn’t an ingredient you typically find in the average pantry.  But if you do have access to it, seriously, you have to try this sauce.  I found the nutritional yeast at a local health food store.  The Mmmm Sauce has such a unique and absolutely delicious flavor and the name fits it perfectly!

Afternoon Snack

I was a very busy bee after lunch running around trying to wrap up a few loose ends before heading off on vacation for several days.  The afternoon flew by and all of a sudden I was hungry again.

yogurt bananas pb

A familiar breakfast combo turned into a snack – sliced banana with Greek yogurt and a scoop of chunky peanut butter.


Sighhh this is where I wish I could just cut off this post.  Dinner was pathetic.  Actually there wasn’t a ‘dinner’, just lots of snacks followed by a very early bedtime.

trail mix

I polished off the remaining trail mix I made this weekend.


Then finished the rest of the birthday popcorn I made for my Dad and Nikki (whose birthdays are both coming up!).

And then, I proceeded to raid the pantry and ate a bunch of random food, including some vanilla almonds, dates, and two spoonfuls of peanut butter.

Pathetic, I know.  Hey, there is always today to get back into healthy eating again! 😉

Have a great Wednesday!

Sloppy Joe’s From Scratch

Have some more sloppy joes.  I made ’em extra sloppy for you.  I know how you kids like ’em extra sloppy.”  <—- Name that movie!

sloppy joe1

Oh my gosh, too funny!  Dave quotes that every now and again and it never fails to crack me up!

I had a random, but very serious, craving for Sloppy Joe’s the other night.


While quite tempted to use Manwich from the can (so gross, but soo soo good!), I decided to attempt a healthier, less processed version.

sloppy joe3

And you want to know what?  It was almost as easy as opening a can.  And although it’s been a long time since I’ve had Manwich (<— ok, that name is kinda grosses me out!), I’d have to say it tastes even better! 😉

sloppy joe's from scratch

Homemade Sloppy Joes

slightly adapted from Rachael Ray’s recipe

Serves 4 Hungry Joe’s


sloppy joe ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil (or spray)

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 lb ground beef

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1/4 cup barbeque sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1 tbsp steak seasoning

4 whole wheat buns (I used sandwich thins because that’s all I had on hand)


1.  Heat oil in the pan and add chopped onion and bell pepper.  Saute for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened.

2.  Add ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink.

3.  Drain excess grease from the pan, if desired.  (Depends on how lean the ground beef is.)

4.  Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and add to the pan.

5.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.

sloppy joes pan

6.  Spoon a 1/4 of the meat onto each and serve!

sloppy joe2

Note:  Once the sauce has been added, give it a taste test.  If you prefer Sloppy Joe’s on the sweeter side, you may want to add a little brown sugar depending on the type and sweetness of the BBQ sauce you use.  I thought mine was just sweet enough as it was!

sloppy joe4Don’t forget the napkins!

WIAW #14: Adobe Gilas

Look at what’s being built as we speak I type and you read…



Ahh I’m so excited!  They are building an outlet mall about 3 minutes from my work in Rosemont.

When I first started working in the area, there was very little to do.  Most of the surrounding buildings are other business offices and hotels, along with the convention center.  My coworkers and I have always had a tough time trying to find decent sit-down restaurants (besides fast food) or anywhere to hang out after work.  This was all up until a couple years ago when they added an entertainment district with a bunch of nice restaurants and bars, including Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar, Zanie’s Comedy Club, and Kings Bowling Alley.

Still, the area lacks any good shopping.  The only place nearby is Target which, don’t get me wrong, is better than nothing but just doesn’t cut it all the time.  But come August, we will have a huge fashion outlet mall with awesome stores!  Some stores I’m especially looking forward to Michael Kors, BCBG, Coach, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Limited, Tory Burch, among many others!  I seriously cannot wait!

What I Ate Wednesday

Okay, now that I’ve gotten some of the excitement out of my system, let’s take a peek at another day of food.


I prepped a batch of protein pancakes the night before following this recipe, minus the lemon Stevia and blueberries.

pbj protein pancake

I ate 3 of these protein pancakes smeared with peanut butter and jelly (this picture was the prettiest so became the representative for all three).  I was surprised at how delicious these were as leftovers served cold/room temp.  Very filling!  I will definitely be making these again.

Mid Morning Snack

roast beef wrap

Whole wheat tortilla wrapped around roast beef, spinach leaves, and yellow mustard.

I know, it’s a rather odd morning snack but I had already packed the rest of my food and realized I was still without something to hold me between breakfast and lunch.  I remembered I had roast beef deli meat that would likely go bad if I didn’t use it up quickly and thus, a roast beef wrap was had at 10 am!


sloppy joe and roasted veggies

Homemade Sloppy Joe filling (obviously minus the bun), alongside roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  Leftovers are just very un-photogenic, aren’t they?  My apologies. Oh well, sure tasted good!

Afternoon Snack

About an hour after lunch, I was ready for a tiny dessert.

reese's egg

Last Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg of the season.  😦

turkey jerky

I picked up this Turkey Jerky in the check out line at Target and stashed it away in my desk drawer.  Since I knew I would be having an early dinner, I didn’t want to ruin my appetite but needed something. Turkey Jerky to the rescue!  (I’ve never had it before but it tastes almost identical to beef jerky.)


Oh man, am I glad I saved plenty of room for dinner!

csf girls group pic

A group of us girls from work (including 2 former coworkers) all met at Adobe Gilas, the Mexican restaurant located in the Rosemont entertainment district.

adobe gilas guacamole

We started off with tri-colored tortilla chips dipped in guacamole and salsa and a few drinks.

adobe gilas tacos

Since it was $2 taco night, everyone ordered a combination of different kinds.  I had the buffalo chicken taco (crispy buffalo chicken and blue cheese) and the carne asada taco (steak, cilantro, and onions).  Cheap and yummy!