Recipe Box: Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

We’ve got a favorite book in the Daniel household. It’s called Dragons Love Tacos. Have you heard of it? Well, there are dragons (obviously) and they L-O-V-E tacos (again with the obvious – I guess that’s what you get when you’re reading children’s books). There are taco parties, which, I would be all for attending because quite honestly, I LOVE TACOS TOO.

(Just not spicy salsa. Spoiler: Dragons do not like spicy salsa.)

Anyway, the point is, we Daniels are fans of tacos. And books. And books about tacos.

Naturally, this taco recipe is a big hit here. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t actually prepare this recipe. My darling husband was the taco chef; I was busy painting dots on the floor of our son’s 1st grade hallway.

Say what?

dotday

This is a special treat for the first graders of our school district! We celebrate their individuality and creativity.

Yes, while I was getting my paint on, Jay was pitching in and making us this YUMMY dinner. We tweaked the recipe slightly but you can find the original here. We originally found this when we were doing the Advocare 24 day challenge last summer and it’s tried and true.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

First things first, start prepping this a few hours before you want to eat. Because it takes some time to mix together and soak up the flavor. Cool? Cool.

Strawberry Salsa Ingredients 

8 ounces of fresh strawberries – chopped
1/2 red onion – diced
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground pepper

strawberrysalsa

Squeeze that lime, Dude. RAWR!

Prepare the salsa first. It’s easy, yummy, and you can throw it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the tacos. (Or, you can take little spoonfuls if you’re hungry.) (Not that I would ever do such a thing.)

Chipotle Lime Shrimp Ingredients 

1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (Do not make my mistake and buy ones that aren’t peeled. Because I’ll tell you what, Jay was not impressed with that task. Whoopsies.)
Juice of 2 limes
2 garlic cloves, minced (I keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge) (#lazy) (#lessworkforme)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

goya

marinate

Mix all the ingredients listed above in a bowl and then pour over the prepared shrimp. We throw them in a Ziplock freezer bag and shake it around before putting it in the fridge for about a half hour. Prior to shaking it around, make sure it’s really and truly zipped. Again, I speak from experience.

And hey, while these marinate, grab a drink and chill. While you’re waiting, you can also prepare the toppings for the tacos.

Taco Topping and Taco Taco Ingredients
8 4 inch corn tortillas – warmed (microwave for 30-45 seconds)
1 cup shredded cabbage
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (I sometimes can’t find this in my regular supermarket but I’ve had good luck at both Aldi and the Mexican mart nearby.)
1 lime, cut into wedges

After those 30 minutes tick by, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Put a glug or two of olive oil in the pan and put the marinated shrimp in the skillet. (Any extra marinade in the bag can be chucked.) Cook the shrimp 1 to 2 minutes, then flip the shrimp and cook a couple more minutes until they’re pink.

shrimpcooking

Set the table with shrimp, toppings, salsa, and tacos. Prepare your taco whichever way you’d like and proceed to stuff in your face.

shrimptaco

A taste sensation! (Seriously, I need to lay off the children’s books.)

In unrelated but still AWESOME news, you might notice the new badge over in the sidebar for The Mermaid Club. I just found out this week that I’m a new ambassador! Isn’t it the most? More on that soon! Live life, make waves!

All sorts of yoga

Since last summer, I’ve tried yoga on a paddleboard, yoga while hiking and yoga poses all around Rochester. And I found that I really enjoyed pushing my self, trying new poses and meeting new people in the process.

Last month, I tried another version of yoga, this time trekking on snowshoes to complete my first-ever SNOWGA session.

That’s right. I hiked about 3 miles on snowshoes with an adventurous group of women to try snowga at Bristol Harbour Resort in the heart of the Finger Lakes. We stopped twice on our trek for a mini-yoga session that included tests of balance and flexibility and strength, all with snowshoes strapped to our feet.

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Warrior 1, humble warrior, downward dog, triangle, shavasana. We did it all in the snow. One woman even tackled a headstand with snowshoes on! Look closely below in the rear left of this picture, as you can see one badass yogi working her magic.

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The event was with Finger Lakes Yogascapes, a local women-owned business that offers indulgent fitness retreats for women. I learned about the company last year through my job and have tried a few of their classes. But I have been itching to try snowga since first heard about it last winter.

First off, snowga wasn’t hard. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. The incorporated yoga sessions were also geared toward beginners with modication options for the more advance yogis in the crowd.

The day event included a loan of snowshoes and walking poles, but I brought my own. Heck, I had them, why not use them? With lots of snow in Rochester the week leading up to the event, we only had a few inches at the snowga site in Ontario County. Not to worry. We had snow, and that’s really what mattered.

We tackled two 1.5-mile loops of a golf course, pausing twice to strike a pose.

There, I met loads of incredible local women, including Brittany and Sue, (pictured below) who I am hoping to see at a future outing.

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Snowga was followed by lunch and drinks (hot cider was heavenly), great chats and an amazing view. I also made a video (for work) of the adventure. so click here or the photo below to view my D&C video.

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What’s the oddest type of yoga you’ve tried? Have you done yoga in snowshoes or (my latest column) in a brewery? Tell me all about your adventures in the comments!

#RocknBlog 2016

I am honored to again be selected as part of the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series ambassador team as a Rock-n-Blogger.

This will be my second straight year with the energetic team. Last year I had mighty plans, but some injuries and other life happenings sidelined me more than expected, so I wasn’t able to attend any of my scheduled races. Heck, most of my racing plans went out the window after I hurt my knee last March.

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So this year, I am going to slowly work my way back to half-marathon distance with a goal race or two in sight. Which races might that be? I’ve got my eye on a few, but time will tell which ones make the cut.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s great news Vic, but what does it mean for US? Well! I will soon have a discount code to share with you. I haven’t gotten it yet, but once I do, I’ll be sure to share here and spread the wealth.

In the meantime, tell me what RnR races you’ve done and which ones are on your bucket list!

 

Thanks For the Solid, Universe!

Perhaps it’s my fast approaching 40th birthday, but in recent years, I’ve learned not to take the good stuff for granted. Sometimes the craziness of life can make it impossible to take a moment to be grateful. I know I don’t need to enumerate the many variations of our daily struggles, obligations, and to-do lists. I know you feel me and we know the struggle is real.

When I was younger, I knew I was never automatically entitled to anything, but I definitely felt that life should be fair. Fair meaning that if you worked hard, you were rewarded in some way. Maybe not by your boss, but some other piece of good karma would surely float your way because you’re a good person. You try your best to be friendly, courteous, hardworking, and balanced. I don’t believe in the fairness so much anymore, but I do subscribe to the idea of good karma.

gratitude

January was a big month for me. I ran my first Disney race, the Star Wars Rebel Challenge. I got the promotion I’ve been working toward for three years. It came with a raise, too, and I’m able to breathe a little easier from month to month (and sock more away for future race entries). My marriage is stronger than ever, and my health is good. I think I’m getting some karma payback at this particular moment in time. Overall, life is pretty fricking awesome right now.

Just right now. Because we all know “fricking awesome” is a very temporary state.

I’m not trying to brag and don’t misunderstand me, there are certainly things in my life that aren’t going swimmingly, things that are too private to share with the interwebs. But my point is, when we find ourselves in a good place overall, we cannot allow ourselves to focus on the few difficult challenges and pass over the fricking awesome. It’s hard. I know. Here’s what we have to remember, we have to refuse to get distracted from all the amazing in life because it’s too precious, and all too fleeting.

Senior prom in 1995, and Fall of 2014. #alwayshim

Senior prom in 1995, and Fall of 2014. #alwayshim

Living in the moment is sooooooo hard. Finding two minutes to reflect on what is cause for happiness can be easily blotted out by the daily grind. Maybe for you it’s the stress of your kid’s schedule, demands and deadlines at work, bills piling up, or countless, never-ending chores to do. We all have different coping strategies, and here is what I’ve found works best for me.

Stop stressing over things I have no control over. This took me a long time to learn, but once I finally let go of worrying about every possible worst case scenario, I felt so free. Free to be. Free to come up with creative solutions when and if the need arose. Free to let other people worry about stuff. Free to put this extra crap I don’t need to carry around out of my mind.

Don’t waste emotional dollars on small grievances. Years ago, an employer sent me to this cheesy seminar (you know the ones) where I learned nifty strategies for dealing with difficult workplace challenges. This particular seminar taught me the concept of emotional dollars, and almost 20 years later, I still use this tool to check myself. How does it work? Like this; when you wake up in the morning, you have 100.00 emotional dollars in your “emotional bank account” for the whole day. Let’s say you spend 10 getting angry at the guy who cuts you off on the freeway, another 25.00 at the lunch waiter because he got your order wrong, and 40.00 listening to your annoying co-worker gripe about how much they hate their job. At the end of the day when you go home to your family, you only have 25.00 left to spend. Only twenty-five emotional dollars to spend on the people and relationships that really matter. I try to spend my dollars wisely because spending emotional energy on this kind of stuff drains me and leaves me emotionally unavailable to the people who count. Not to mention, very little left for positive appreciation and contentment.

It's just not worth it.

It’s just not worth it.

Objectively look at my current situation and seek out the positives. Being objective about myself is super difficult, and I’m guessing that might be true for many folks. We’re always comparing and judging ourselves against others when the only comparison should be against ourselves. My strategy is to focus on the basics first, things we sometimes take for granted like having a home, healthy food and clean water, having a job, good health; you know, the important things. Even more effective is to reflect on my past. When I look back at my mistakes and wrong choices and see how they led me to my current situation, it’s easier to see how far I’ve come and be proud and content with myself.

Being grateful is a practice in mindfulness and living in the present. I’ve also had to learn to accept what I cannot change and forgive myself for some of my choices. I hope this post sends you some good karma and helps you find a little more peace and contentment.

How do you cope with stress and worry? Have you ever kept a gratitude journal? Tell us what you’re grateful for in the comments!

Planning – a love story (and giveaway)

becnameplate

Okay, straight up, this post was originally scheduled for last week, but my planner hadn’t yet arrived because I ordered it after the holidays, during the busiest time, and so it took longer than I was expecting, and I just wasn’t ready in time.

Ironic, huh?

Back before cell phones and computers, I used to take great delight in getting a new planner each year, putting all my contacts and birthdays in it, carrying it with me everywhere I went. I loved the idea of planning, even though I was nineteen years old, and I didn’t really have a lot of things to juggle.

Fast forward twenty something years, and my life is a massive, chaotic, scheduling tornado. Between work and kids and errands and LIFE, it just requires a level of organization to keep everything running smoothly.

Most of this is handled by technology these days. My contacts are stored in my phone, and Facebook tells me when people are having a birthday. Most of my doctor’s offices send text reminders, and my Google calendar lets me set alerts for all the things I forgot I scheduled.

But last year, I started to really miss pen and paper planning. And since, for me, interest often turns to obsession, I went a little planner crazy. I got a desk sized planner, a purse sized one, a journal, a fitness planner.

If one planner is good, four is... crazy.

If one planner is good, four is… crazy.

Want to guess how that turned out? I practically pulled a shoulder muscle out dragging all my planners around, and I darn sure wasn’t any more organized. It was too much of a good thing, and the stack of planners were soon gathering dust.

I really wanted ONE planner where I could put everything. Preferably not the size of my fifth grade Trapper Keeper. And pretty. Possibly monogrammed.

Basically, I wanted an Erin Condren Life Planner. Even with the sticker shock, I just really wanted one. Sadly, when I looked into them, while they were very customizable, they still weren’t exactly what I needed. So, I kept looking.

And in the meantime, I Googled ‘menu planner template’ and printed out some sheets to tide me over.

Keeping it simple

Keeping it simple

Finally, I found what I wanted in the Plum Paper ME Planner. I could customize it to fit all the things I wanted in there, in a way that made sense for my life. And it was pretty. And I could put my name on it. The hardest decision was picking which adorable design I wanted.

Adorable, no?

Adorable, no?

Goals, Bills, Appointments, Meal and Fitness Planning, Self Care, etc. And a fitness section add on. It’s everything, fits in my bag, doesn’t break my shoulder socket. I’m so in love.

Me and my planner spend a few minutes together each night, looking over the next few days, and a few minutes each morning, prepping for that day. We’re still getting to know each other, but I think this is the beginning of a beautiful, organized, relationship.

mernameplate

One might say I’m a bit old school. I’m a very visual, tactile person. Books over kindles, letters over emails, that type of thing.

Last January I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a planner to Bec, which I guess she took as a challenge. Not even a week later, I had a cute little planner delivered to my doorstep (and lip balm, because lip health is important).

We have a family calendar in our kitchen.

Random fact: I've used this template on my computer since I was a Resident Director in college and had to post RA schedules.

Random fact: I’ve used this template on my computer since I was a Resident Director in college and had to post RA schedules.

But the one that Bec sent? It was mine, all mine! Mwahahaha, world domination!

Ahem. Anyway, I used that planner for everything related to my life. I do a lot of freelance work where I need to track my own hours in order to get cash money and who wants to screw up with that? Um, not me. The planner is a great way to track hours and payments.

It stands to reason that when December rolled around, a planner was on my holiday wish list. I went with this one because it was on Amazon and not one billion dollars.

planner2016

It is hefty but thankfully I’m not really using it anywhere but in my home, so the bigger the better. (That’s what she said!)

Look at all the pretty planning tabs!

Look at all the pretty planning tabs!

There is something about having things all laid out in front of me that just works for me. I like the order of this planner, it actually reminds me of a book that I used in Girl Scouts when I was younger.

On the full calendar I have an overview of the month. I particularly like this one for keeping track of my work related activities.

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On the weekly page, it’s more about my personal events: workouts, food planning, volunteer work, etcetera.

weeklycalendar

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

I mean, I know it’s not normal to be in love with a planner but… I LOVE MY PLANNER, OKAY? I am not ashamed.

In addition to Bec and I both loving planners, we absolutely love Skinnytaste. And, naturally, we love YOU. So we decided to pool our resources of love and gift the Skinnytaste meal planner to a lucky reader. Cool? Cool.

We'll pick a winner in a week and then we'll ship out this little beauty.

We’ll pick a winner in a week and then we’ll ship out this little beauty.

Click on the pic below and enter today!

rafflecopterskinnytaste

Do you use a planner or have you in the past? What keeps you motivated? If you see something in writing does it mean it must be done?

Weight Lifting Wednesday

It’s been a while. Oops.

The holidays happened. Then I moved. Now January is almost over and I feel like I don’t know where it went. Gah.

In all of this busy-ness, running has kind of fallen to the curb. I’ve run maybe twice since the Baltimore marathon in October. I’m signed up for a couple of races this spring, but honestly, I’m enjoying the break. From running at least.Look at those musclesssss

What have I been doing in the meantime?

Lifting a lot of heavy things.

The boyfrannnd is a Marine and that means being in shape and PT tests and since we both like fitness (and beer and pizza), we find ways to workout together so we can eat and drink together, too. We’ve crafted a workout schedule that is mostly weight training, balanced with some cardio and I’ve really been feeling great. Physically and mentally. It’s a huge boost to my self esteem to see the numbers on the plates tick up week to week.

By no means are we preparing for any body building or bikini figure contests, but damn if my arms and traps and lats don’t look way better than they used to.

Weight lifting can be super intimidating – I get it – but with the right plan for you, it can be the best workout you’ve ever gotten.

Just to give you a taste, here’s a week in the life of my current training schedule:

 

Monday: Back/Shoulders

  • Pull-up pyramid(5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5)/push-ups (10) superset
  • Military Press: 65#; 4×10
  • Barbell Rows: 115#; 4×10
  • Lat pull downs: 104#; 4×10
  • Tricep pull-up pyramid (5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5)

Tuesday: Legs

  • Squats: 165#; 4×12 (we opted for reps over weight here, whereas our last training cycle was focused more on heavy lifts and I was squatting 195#-200#)
  • Deadlifts: 165#; 2×10

Wednesday: Chest

  • Straight bench: 105#; 4×8
  • Incline bench: 95#; 4×8
  • Decline bench 105#; 4×8

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Bi/Tri

  • Standing curl (27.5#)/dips (10) superset: 4×10
  • Reverse grip pull downs : 55#; 4×10
  • EZ Bar Curls: 50#; 4×10
  • Tricep pushdowns: 55#; 4×10
  • Rope curls: 55#; 4×10
  • Plate curl drop sets: 45#, 35#, 25#

Saturday/Sunday: Cardio 
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I mean, one of the most frustrating things I hear from women is that they “don’t want to get big.” Now, I totally get the not wanting to look like some juiced-up East German Olympian with a lady ‘stache, but muscles are hot! And being strong is sexy. I love looking in the mirror and knowing that the reason my shirt is a little tighter or my jeans are filled out more is because I can squat more than what my boyfriend weighs.

Stringing together pull-ups, a thing I haven’t been able to do since I was a kid, is awesome. The day I finally put up 135# on my bench press? I felt like such a badass. Not to mention the fact that lifting weights is an incredible way to build core strength (without having to do a million crunches or other silly ab workouts) and is great cross training for running, biking or other cardio-based workouts.

If you’re at all intrigued by weight training – ask a trainer about it! When you’re at the gym, don’t be intimidated, just do some reading and research and give it a try. Make a plan, start light and get lifting!

How Do You Know I Did A Training Run?

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you!

Seriously though, I know that there are two camps of people.

  1. Those who want to hear all about my training, running, food, water intake, breathing.
  2. The rest of the world… who are probably not reading this blog post.

So, for those who fall into the first camp, it’s no secret that I’m training for the Atlantic City April Fools Half. I talk about it a lot because it consumes a lot of my free time. AND, for the first time in a long time, my body is actually behaving, feeling pretty darn good, and seems to be on board with this plan.

As such, it’s training time and I’m armed and ready. I’ve got my 12 week half marathon plan. Bonus? I actually started training 12 weeks ahead of time. That rarely has never happened before.

Thanks to City Fit Girls and Coach Marcy for this plan!

Thanks to City Fit Girls and Coach Marcy for this plan!

I’ve got my sneakers (and new GoPro camera – heyyyy!).

Wave Inspire 12s love the boardwalk.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 12s love the boardwalk.

And I’ve got my training partner in crime.

Chrissy and me, after our first training run.

Chrissy and me, after our first training run for the April race.

Usually I don’t have the opportunity to train with my race day buddies; the majority of them are scattered across the country. You might remember Chrissy from last year’s Broad Street 10 Miler and Philly half – she’s local-ish (and we’ve been friends for the better part of 30 years).

Just before the open strains of Auld Lang Syne, Chrissy and I were texting about our training plans for the April Fools half and we came up with our long run game plan.

While we both live in New Jersey, we’re about an hour and a half apart. However, Atlantic City is equidistant from both of us so we figured, wouldn’t it make sense to train on the course? Yes! Yes, it would.

We both got really excited by this plan. We texted more. We messaged on Facebook and Instagram (to cover all our bases). We talked about the distance we wanted to go our first run. And then?

Then we looked at the weather.

So you're saying New Jersey is cold in January?

So you’re saying New Jersey is cold in January?

We persevered! The excitement overrode the nervousness of the cold weather and we dressed appropriately.

And when I tell you it wasn’t that bad, it really wasn’t that bad! Once you start moving and enjoying the scenery, 5 miles goes fast!

5milestraining

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The following week, we had 6 miles on tap. Again we checked the weather and while it was supposed to be cold, it was also supposed to be windy. Really windy. Extreme winds.

We made the executive decision to take it to the treadmill and text throughout to hold each other accountable. No wimping out!

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My basement =/= the beach

I watched Pretty Little Liars (I’m liking it again, for the record – the 5 year jump did it for me).

Did 2:1 intervals and we got it done.

Well, that was not so much fun.

Well, that was not so much fun.

Then I laid down on the belt for awhile and took a rest.

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I started a little bit earlier than Chrissy so I was about 2 miles into the run when she started. While supine, I texted encouraging messages to her until she wrapped up and sent me her finished selfie!

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Look at that smile!

We were back out on the boards this week for our 7 mile run, with weather much like the first week of training. Hooray!

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We felt pretty ready to be done at 5 miles but we kept going, circling back around because we ran out of boardwalk.

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We’re still figuring all of this out as we go but there are a few hard and fast rules of our training runs.

  1. We do what we want. For awhile we were doing 2:1 intervals but Chrissy has been doing 1:1 for about a year now. This past week, mid-run we decided to change back to 1:1. Why? Because it felt better. If we want to stop mid-run and take a picture in front of a sign, or the ocean, or the cool wall we found, we stop. Long slow distance, we take it to heart.
  2. If you hear music, you must dance. There are a few places on the (very empty) boardwalk that have speakers with music playing. There is ALWAYS dancing. And sometimes singing. I haven’t gotten a video of it yet but trust me, I’m sure one will show up on the Instagram.
  3. Stairs or escalator? No. There’s no or. See, that was a trick question. It’s always stairs. And if we’re feeling especially motivated we might run stairs after our run just for fun. (Okay, that only happened once so far.)
  4. Food. Eating is a key part of the training run regiment. We found a little place that makes breakfast sandwiches and man, is it amazing. Seriously.
  5. Ducks Fly Together! And when the roosters are crowing and the cows are spinning circles in the pasture? DUCKS FLY TOGETHER.

That last one is the most important. We stick together. And as long as we do that, by race day, we win no matter what.

Next week we have an 8 miler on tap and we’re really hoping that the impending blizzard doesn’t force us back to the treadmills. But if it does, I know I can do it because I’ve got my training partner in crime and together we can handle anything!

Are you training for a spring race? What’s the longest distance you’ve done on a treadmill? Do you try to run a local course before race day?