Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesdays

We got our wedding bands!!!  We are approaching the 7 month mark and we decided that since it was holiday season, we would max out on some holiday deals and buy our wedding bands!

We used Blue Nile, which is also the site where Bri designed my engagement ring.  I love this site as you can customize so much, the prices are better than stores, and the customer service is great.  For example, we ordered our rings and had them the very next day with no cost for shipping!! Plus, they will size the rings as well!
His

Hers

Blue Nile also has a ton of great jewelry for all occasions so check it out!

I can't believe that we are only 7 months away and I couldn't be more excited!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Squash Shakshuka with Baked Eggs

I saw my friend, Tamara, yesterday and I went with her and her family to get her bridesmaids dress and go to dinner.  She looks super amazing.  She always looked super amazing, but that girl has been going to the gym, eating healthy, and she just looked fantastic.  I have been trying to get in that mode, but I have been running into some obstacles: THE HOLIDAYS.  So, starting today, I am going to be working on staying more focused, eating healthy/homecooked meals and winter marathon training just started so I'll be running/working out as well.  

The holidays are really starting to catch up with me.  I feel like all we do is eat!  It has been a ton of fun, but now I am trying to get back into "real life mode."  So, today I'm sharing a recipe with you that I found on The Kitchn.  It is a great recipe for a weeknight and it is sort of like a breakfast for dinner thing, which we love.  It was easy to put together and looked fairly impressive:


Squash Shakshuka with Baked Eggs

Ingredients:
2 lbs squash (I used zucchini and yellow squash)
kosher salt
olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 lb tomatoes, chopped
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup basil, chopped
4 large eggs
black pepper

Directions:
1. Cut off the ends of the squash and grate using a box grater.  Place all the grated squash into a colander with 1 tbsp of kosher salt and let sit.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. In an oven-safe skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add in the shallots, garlic, and paprika.  Cook until fragrant.  
4. Using paper towels, squeeze as much liquid from the squash as you can and then add this to the skillet. Add in the tomatoes as well and stir occasionally until the ingredients are no longer releasing liquid.  Stir in the goat cheese and basil. 
5. Remove from heat and create 4 wells in the mixture.  Place an egg in each of the wells and bake for 10 minutes.  Once done, sprinkle some black pepper over the mixture.

Enjoy :)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Marathon Training Monday: Winter Training

Today is Day 1 of Winter Marathon Training!

I have never trained in the winter before and of course today it is super nasty outside.  However, today was just a 3 mile run to get back into things.  Like a crazy person, I went to bootcamp class at 5:45 in the morning and then afterwards, I ran my 3 miles on a treadmill while watching 30 Rock.  I'm not a big fan of running on a treadmill, but I watching netflix makes it so much better.

I think I am pretty ready.  I have to go pick up my stuff today (I'm training with CARA again so we get stuff) and I already have some nice winter running gear.  I have Nike thermal running tights, Under Armour Cold Gear for a base layer on top, and I got a really cute vest from Athleta for the holidays from my mommy.  I also already have my new pair of running shoes, but I have not started using them yet.

I still have to go get a handheld, insulated water bottle, but other than that I am good to go.

I am training for the Nashville Rock n' Roll Marathon on April 30th and I can't wait!  I also just found out that my bestie, Tamara wants to run her first half marathon and wants me to do it with her.  I, of course, said I would love to!  She wants to run the half in Madison, Wisconsin in May.  I couldn't be more excited about this half marathon as it was my first half marathon!!!  How cute is that?

Anyways, I will keep you posted on all my winter marathon running as I get going.  Here is the mileage for the first week: 3/3/3/6.  I'm planning on getting those three's done, today, Tuesday, and Thursday.  I am also going to continue strength training with bootcamp class on Wednesdays and I will do that until I feel like it is too much.  Here I go!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Beer Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan

Merry Christmas Eve!  I really love brussel sprouts and I figured that they are a pretty common Christmas table staple.  So I am going to share one of the more recent brussel sprout recipes I tried that I just loved.  

Bri is not a huge fan of brussel sprouts.  However, he tried these and said that he actually liked them.  That is how great this recipe is.  

In other news, last night I threw a little party for Bri and his brother's "50th Birthday."  They are twins who just turned 25 so I thought that it was cute to combine those ages and call it a 50th!  It was such a fun night.  A ton of our friends stopped by our place and we just hung out, had some good food, good drinks and it was a blast.  It was one of those nights where I am just so incredibly grateful for how many amazing people we have in our lives.  

Tonight we are headed to my family's Christmas Eve get together and I am excited for yet another evening full of fantastic people.  I hope that everyone out there also has a really lovely holiday season full of friends, family, and of course, good food!

Beer Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan
(adapted from The Homemade Haus)


Ingredients:
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lbs brussel sprouts, halved
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz beer (we used Revolution's Fist City #Chicago)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven and turn the broiler on high.
2. In an oven-proof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add in the brussel sprouts and let cook for about 3 minutes.  Stir them and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally.
3. Add in the minced garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes.  Then add in the beer and let cook for another few minutes so that the brussel sprouts become tender.  
4. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt and the brussel sprouts brown a bit.  This took a few minutes and I always watch to make sure that nothing burns.  

Enjoy :) 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesdays: The Honeymoon

When you are about 8 months away from your wedding date, it is time to start planning the honeymoon.  Some people postpone their honeymoon if they can't go right after their wedding, but we picked our date so that we would be able to go on a honeymoon.  I am super pumped because we are going to Hawaii!!

We are leaving one day after our wedding so that we have some time to recover/pack if we need to. Then, we are spending 9 days and 8 nights in Hawaii.  We are going to be in Maui for 4 nights and then Kauai for 4 nights.  We couldn't be more excited.  We booked our flights and booked our VRBOs (Vacation Rentals By Owner).  We decided to go with VRBOs because we wanted to save a little by avoiding the super expensive resorts and this way we can have a kitchen to cook some meals while we are there (and did you know I like to cook?).  We are also planning on having a rental car while we are there so that we can explore all parts of the islands.

Now here's where you come in.  If you have any recommendations please comment on this.  Anything at all for Maui or Kauai would be appreciated!  Thank you!  We are so excited!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pumpkin Mousse

Is it still pumpkin season? I'm gonna say yes since it's so weirdly warm this winter that it still sorta feels like fall.  I mean, I just went for a run and got way to sweaty for this time of year.  Also, I got really cute cold weather running gear for Hanukkah and I can't even wear it since it's too warm!  I know I shouldn't complain.  I love that there is no snow and that I can still make pumpkin things.  What more could a girl ask for?  

I was playing around with the idea of a pumpkin-like pie but without the pie crust.  I found a recipe for a pumpkin mousse and I just loved that idea!  So, that is what I am sharing with you today!  

Today is also a pretty exciting day for me (besides the pumpkin mousse).  I have a lunch date with Bri's Aunt to talk about a wedding shower and then I have a dinner date with Bri's whole family to celebrate his and his twin's birthdays!  I get to go to Cheesecake Factory and Portillo's...all in one day!  This is why I went for a 5.75 mile run this morning.  Gotta prepare myself for all the delicious eating!  

Pumpkin Mousse
(adapted from Pastry Chef Online)


Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
1. In a saucepan, heat the water and sugar until boiling.  Continue to boil until the sugar has deeply caramelized.  Once this happens, immediately remove it from the stove and pour in 1 cup of the heavy cream and stir to combine.  Pour this mixture into a metal bowl.
2. Add in the pumpkin, honey, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla.  Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
3. Pour the rest of the heavy cream (1 1/2 cups) into a metal bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.  Pour 1/3 of this mixture into your cold pumpkin mixture and beat to combine.  Then pour the the rest and use a spatula to fold in the cream until no white streaks remain.
4. Place back into the fridge to keep cold, or serve!  I served mine with a little whipped cream on top!

Enjoy :)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Autumn Minestrone Soup

Today is the first official day of winter break! I stuck to my typical schedule of going to boot camp class at 5:45 am because I figured it was good for me.  I know I'm a little crazy.  However, it was a nice way to start my day and now I have the whole day ahead of me!  

What is really weirding me out is the fact that it is raining...on December 21st...in Chicago.  What???

So, I figured it would be lovely to share this soup recipe with you all because it is a soup kinda day.  

I made this soup as part of Bri's and my vegetarian Thanksgiving.  This was just a dinner for the two of us where I went all out and made a ton of delicious vegetarian things.  This Autumn Minestrone was super easy to make and it was amazing!  If anyone else out there is looking out the window and thinking today is going to be one dreary Monday, make this soup!  It will totally brighten your day!

Autumn Minestrone Soup
(adapted from Cooking Classy)

Ingredients:
15 baby carrots, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 - 2 1/2 cups 1 inch cubed sweet potato, peeled first
2 - 2 1/2 cups 1 inch cubed butternut squash
1 zucchini, quartered
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups kale and spinach mix
1 14.5 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
parmesan for topping

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium and add in the carrots and onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes and then add in the garlic and cook for another minute.  
2. Add in the vegetable broth, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, rosemary, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes can be pierced with a fork.  
3. Add in the kale/spinach and the kidney beans.  Cover and let cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves and serve with parmesan if you want!

Enjoy :)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Happy Birthday Brian: Caprese Avocado Breakfast Sandwiches

Today is Bri's 25th birthday!!!  I want to wish him a very special birthday.  I can't believe that this is the age we will be when we get married in less than 8 months! Bri is so special to me and I love him so much.  I want today to be a great day for him.

I woke up WAY before him this morning and went to my zumba class.  Then, I picked up some stuff that I needed at Mariano's and headed home to make him a little brunch.

I made Caprese Breakfast Sandwiches and he said that it "really hit the spot."  Then, we sat down to watch the Bears game.

I am not a huge fan of watching football, so I started baking some Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies.  This dessert was Bri's request for his birthday treat and I'm pretty excited that it was what he wanted.  These brownies are SO good!

Tonight we are going to Jerry's Sandwiches for dinner with both of our families and it is going to be awesome.  I am always totally overwhelmed by their menu and I never know what to order.  I usually go with a last minute, gut reaction decision.  This means that I have tried a lot of different stuff at Jerry's and all of it has been great!  I can't wait!

Today is already super awesome and it is only going to get better...Happy Birthday Bri!

Caprese Breakfast Sandwiches

For one sandwich:
2 pieces of whole wheat bread (or one for an open face sandwich)
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado
1 tbsp lime juice
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of garlic powder
1 tsp balsamic syrup
2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella
2 eggs

Directions:
1. In a bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Set aside.
2. Toast the bread using a toaster or toaster oven.  Place on a plate.  On one slice, spread some avocado mixture and place the halved tomatoes on top.  On the other slice place the slices of mozzarella.
3. In a lightly greased pan over medium heat, crack the eggs and let cook until egg white parts turn white.  Flip and let cook for another 30 seconds-1 minute.  Place eggs on top of mozzarella side.
4. Drizzle some balsamic syrup over both sides and then put together for your sandwich!

Enjoy :)


Monday, December 14, 2015

Dinner Rolls


This weekend was pretty awesome.  

First, one of my best friends got engaged on Friday night and it was super exciting.  I am so happy for them and I can't wait to help her with the wedding planning shenanigans! A bunch of us went in on buying her a wedding planning book and I am just so happy because I know first hand how much fun and how exciting the next year is going to be for her.  

Then, on Saturday, Bri and I got dinner with some friends from high school that we haven't seen in ages.  All of us ended up living pretty near each other and so we decided that we should all get together.  We went to Lady Gregory's in Andersonville.  I love Andersonville.  Everything is just so darn cute!  Dinner was great and then after, we headed to Hopleaf (go there) for some drinks.  It was a really nice night and I can't wait to get together again soon! 

I made these homemade dinner rolls and they were super yummy.  Seriously, they did not look pretty, but they tasted awesome.  I think it is because I used Almond Milk instead of regular milk so I'm going to try this recipe again with regular milk to see if they look different.  However, they were really good so maybe I'll just deal with their ugliness.  

Dinner Rolls
(adapted from Roxanas Home Baking)

Ingredients:4 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups milk (I used Almond Milk)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast

Ingredients:
1. Place the flour in a bowl and create a well in the middle.
2. In a large microwave safe bowl, place the milk, butter, sugar and salt.  Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until butter is melted.
3. Pour half the milk mixture in the flour well and then start to mix using a dough hook. Add in the rest of the milk mixture until the dough comes together.  Continue to knead for about 5 minutes.  Create 12 rolls and place in a lightly greased round baking dish. Cover with a dish towel and let rest while oven is preheating.
4. Preheat oven to 400.  Bake rolls for about 15-20 minutes.  Brush with butter if you want.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Black Bean and Goat Cheese Dip

Who doesn't love dip?  A good dip is just the best!  I made this one for my book club girlfriends and they found it to be delicious.  I think it has a surprising taste, but it really good and you just can't stop eating it.  In fact, I'm thinking about making this dip for a girl's night I have coming up!

My girlfriends organized a secret santa exchange.  I like to call it a secret snowman exchange, but whatever.  How cute are we? My friend Caryn organized it and I am super pumped.  I can't wait to see what I get and I'm pretty excited about the gift I got for my secret person!  Hanukkah is happening right now and I am excited to do some gift giving :)

This week is also actually flying by!  Today all the students are taking a practice ACT exam.  I am excited to see how my students do.  The school was able to get graphing calculators for every student that did not have one (of the 200ish 11th graders, 110 did not have one).  It was really nice and I am excited to see if they perform better today with the extra help and confidence from the graphing calculator!  We spent the last week integrating calculator skill education into our class so they should be totally ready to use them today!

Cheer is also going great! We had a clinic on Saturday and we had a college cheerleader come in to help support our team and teach them some new cheers and jumps.  The team worked so hard and they learned so much.  I was super proud of all of them!  Plus, our uniforms are finally here! So, on Thursday when we perform at the basketball game, we will be in our uniforms and we will have a bunch of new cheers to debut! I can't wait.

Now, back to that dip!

Roasted Butternut Squash Black Bean and Goat Cheese Dip

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz goat cheese
3 tbsp chopped herbs (thyme, parsley, cilantro)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss the cubed squash in a bowl with the olive oil, cinnamon, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, and nutmeg.  Spread out in one layer on your lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Once done, remove from oven and lowder the temp to 350 degrees.
2. Place the cooked squash in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth puree.  Add in the goat cheese and herbs and process until smooth.  Add in the black beans and pulse a few times to combine and smash.
3. Place mixture in a oven-safe dish (I used my adorable mini skillet) and place in oven for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, or whatever else you feel like!

Enjoy :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Marathon Training Monday: Fashion!

Ok, so I know almost nothing about fashion.  Don't get me wrong, I like to look nice/put-together, but my fashion sense is strongly linked to my desire to be totally comfy all the time.  I mean, I am wearing moccasins to school today.  Moccasins are basically glorified slippers.

However, with that being said, I do like to look nice while I am comfy and I have been getting super into looking at fun athletic wear!  I have gotten so into running and I love to treat myself to running clothes that are cute and comfy!

I found out about Fabletics from a friend and I am totally into it.  The clothes are amazing quality and they are so reasonable.  The sports bra that I wore for my marathon was from Fabletics! I love it!  They have the cutest options and if you don't want anything, you just say that and you don't get charged.  It's a great system and I have purchased some amazing things.  So, check it out and have fun looking great the next time you head to the gym or go for a run! You can follow this LINK!


Friday, December 4, 2015

Crunchy Black Bean Burgers

Guys, I am the worst.  I have been meaning to post this for like a week, but I have been too lazy/busy to work on it.  I've been really busy with school/cheer and I've been really lazy when I'm home because I just want to sleep/read.  However, I have a burst of energy because it is Friday and I am done teaching for the week!  Now I am just looking forward to a fun evening at a school social! 

After all the craziness that was Thanksgiving, it's nice to have a simple and delicious meal to come home to.  This veggie burger is that meal.  It's simple to make and it's a great dinner after all that stuffing, turkey, gravy...etc.  

Bri found the recipe for me because he had heard from a colleague that it was "the best" veggie burger recipe.  I don't know if we thought it was "the best" one that we had ever had, but it certainly was yummy and it reheated really well for leftovers!  

Crunchy Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients:2 14.5 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
2 tbsp flour
4 green onions, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of pepper
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
olive oil
whole wheat hamburger buns
cheese slices, optional

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the flour until you have a paste.  Mix in the green onion, cilantro, garlic, cumin, hot sauce, coriander, salt and pepper.  
2. Place chips in a food processor and pulse until you have a finely ground mixture.  Add in the beans and pulse until beans are broken up.  Transfer this mixture to your other bowl and mix to combine.
3. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge for an hour. 
4. Once the mixture has chilled, heat a few tsp of olive oil over medium heat in a pan on the stove.  Form 6-8 patties using your hands and place in pan to cook.  I left them to cook for about 4 minutes on each side.  Serve with buns, cheese and whatever other toppings you want!

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Caramel Apple Cake

Today is my last day of school this week!!! Plus, it's a test day!  I know...I'm a little evil.  I'm a math teacher and I'm excited about giving a test.  Actually, I'm really excited about this test because my students are going to do amazing on it and that is pretty awesome.

I'm also pumped because after school I am leaving for NYC with my family!  We are DRIVING there.  So, if we don't kill each other, by Wednesday night, we will be in NYC to meet up with my little brother and the University of Illinois Marching Band.  My brother is a proud member of this band and they are performing in the Macy's Day Parade on Thanksgiving!! How cool is that?

I'm excited to go to New York, see my New York family and see the Macy's Day Parade in person for the first time.  It is going to be so fun.

To celebrate, I'm sharing a cake!  This Caramel Apple Cake was inspired by the Brown Eyed Baker.  I made it for the ladies of my book club and they thought it was one of the best cakes they had ever had.  I made my cake with two layers of apple spice cake and then spread some "to die for" cinnamon, caramel cream cheese frosting over the whole thing.  Finally, I topped it off with some fresh slices of a granny smith apple.  YUM!  This dessert is super tasty and it is a great option for a Thanksgiving dessert that celebrates fall flavors.

Caramel Apple Cake

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups unsweetened, plain applesauce
Frosting:
12 oz light cream cheese
1 cup unsalted butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp caramel sauce
1-2 tsp heavy cream (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9 inch circular cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease generously.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar for a few minutes.  Beat until it is light and fluffy.  Beat in both eggs until well combined.
4. Alternate adding the flour mixture with the applesauce mixture to the butter and sugar.  Start and end with the flour. Divide the batter into the two prepared pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Let cool completely.
5. To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.  Add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until you have a desired taste and consistency.  Add in the cinnamon and caramel sauce and beat well.  Add in the cream if needed.
6. Once your cake is totally cooled, you can spread a layer of frosting over the top of one layer and the place the other layer on top.  Frosting completely and top with some apple slices.

Enjoy :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Marathon Training Mondays: Turkey Trot 10K

Yesterday I ran my fastest 10K! It was super exciting and I think it is because of my confidence from completing my second marathon and from all my boot camp conditioning classes I have been going to.  I felt great and I was able to maintain a 8:45 pace.  I usually run at about a 10:00 pace so this is way faster! I shaved more than 6 minutes off my last 10K time!

I ran with Jana which was super fun because it brought back all those marathon training memories.  And, guess what?  We are both going to be doing winter marathon training because we are both running the Nashville Marathon in April!  I can't wait!  Winter training starts January 2nd.  It is going to be super cold.  Yesterday was super cold as well and it went great so that gave me confidence that running in the cold will be totally doable.

I did have the issue yesterday of not having any winter running gear! I work leggings and a longsleeve shirt with a jacket over it.  It was a pretty lame running outfit.  I'll have to look for some actual running clothes so that I am ready for winter training!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Smokey Chicken Avocado Roll-Ups

I have one excellent lunch today.  I hosted book club this past weekend and I decided to make these cute chicken roll-ups for the ladies.  I also made a dip and a Caramel Apple Cake, but you will just have to wait on those recipes.

The Chicken Roll-Ups were super tasty, a huge hit, and I secretly made way too many with the plan of keeping some hidden away in the fridge for myself.  Now, I have an awesome school lunch!

Last night we had cheer practice and I just have to talk about it here.  It was an amazing practice.  The team members who were at practice did a phenomenal job learning three new cheers.  Plus, we reviewed a fairly complicated dance that I taught them and they looked great!  This team is getting better every day and it is so incredibly exciting to see and be a part of.  I am super proud of them.  With basketball season just getting started, I can't wait to see what these girl's can do and where they end up.  We're also working on planning bonding activities, team fundraisers, and a cheer clinic.  I just love how into it the team is and it is so much fun.  I was nervous about becoming a coach because it is so time consuming, but I know I made a good choice because it is so fun and I just love all the girls!

Smokey Chicken Avocado Roll-Ups

Ingredients:
4 Flat-Out wraps
1/2 lb smoked chicken breast, sliced thin
1 avocado
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp siracha
salt and pepper, to taste
1 container roasted red pepper pesto
8-12 slices light, sharp cheddar

Directions:
1. Place avocado pieces, lime juice, siracha, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
2. Start with one Flat-Out wrap and spread some avocado spread over the first 2/3 of the wrap.  Use 2-3 pieces of cheese and lay them over the avocado.  You may have to break up slices to get a nice layer.
3. Lay slices of chicken over the cheese.
4. Drizzle the roasted red pepper pesto over the chicken.  Then, start with the end of the wrap that is not empty and roll tightly towards the other end until the wrap is completely rolled.  Cut into about 6 slices. Repeat this process with the other wraps.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday's

I am just exhausted.  I don't know what is up.  I think it's probably the weather and how dreary and dark it always is.  But then again, maybe I am just coming down with something.  I don't know.  I just feel like no matter how early I get to bed, I am still super, crazy tired.  Today I am grateful that we have a short day of school (students leave at 2 instead of 4) and then we have teacher meetings until 4.  After that, I have cheer practice until 5:30.  I know this sounds like a long day, but compared to Monday and Tuesday where I stayed at school until after 7, today is gloriously short.  

A week ago, I went in for a hair cut at Seta's Salon in Deerfield.  I have been going there for ages and Courtney does my highlights and cuts my hair.  She is awesome.  This past week when I was there, she also did a sample wedding style for me and I ADORED it.  I mean look:


It's beautiful! I love it!  I am totally going to go with her for my wedding.  Courtney and Seta are going to come downtown to our hotel, do my hair, my mom's hair and any of my bridesmaids that want their hair done.  I can't wait!  Now, I need to start working on finding a makeup person for the big day.  If you have any ideas for Chicago makeup artists please let me know!  I am looking for someone super reasonable as I know that no one in my wedding party wants to spend a ton on makeup.  I feel like I'd much rather spend on the hair and save on the makeup.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mommy's Granola Bars

It's a quiz day in math class!  I'm feeling a little down since I just graded a bunch of the quizzes and students who have been working on graphing quadratics for THREE weeks are still struggling with it.  I'm gonna have to look for some new strategies.  Any suggestions?  

Last night was also the first cheer performance for a basketball game!  It was really exciting and the girl's did a nice job.  They are a brand new cheer squad and they have already learned a bunch of cheers as well as a few dances.  The captains did a good job calling the cheers, but as a group we are going to have to work on staying sharp and smiling.  We are also continuing to work on our stunts and learning new routines.  I'm exciting for next month when we have a cheer clinic scheduled with a college cheerleader who has volunteered to come help us out!  How cool is that?  

Coaching and math teaching has been going really well at my new school and overall I just love it!  

I made my mommy's granola bar recipe recently when I knew that I was going to be at school for a long time and needed some sort of snack.  My average day starts at 5:45 when I go to the gym to work out.  Then, I get to school between 7:15 and 7:45 and hold office hours or work on lesson plans.  School goes from 8:30 to 4:00 and then I usually have cheer practice or office hours or some sort of school activity until at least 5:30.  Some nights I am here until 7!  On those crazy long days, I need some sort of pick-me-up and these granola bars totally do the trick.  I can't wait to make these again and maybe try mixing up the ingredients.  For this recipe I used dried fruit, but you could totally mix it up by putting in some chocolate chips, almonds, peanut butter chips, caramel...whatever!  This recipe can also easily be gluten free! 

Mommy's Granola Bars


Ingredients:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup rice puff cereal (I used the Kashi 7 Grain one)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp flaxseed
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/4 cup dried cherries
2 tbsp dried blueberries
2 tbsp raisins
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla 
pinch of salt

Directions:
1. Lightly grease a 8 by 8 pan.
2. In a bowl, mix the oats, puff cereal, flax. wheat germ, and dried fruit.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the almond butter, brown sugar, honey, and salt.  Stir until the mixture starts to bubble.  Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients.
4. Stir the mixture to coat all the dry ingredients.  Then pour the mixture into your prepared pan and press evenly into the pan.  Place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to chill.  Once chilled, cut into bars.

Enjoy :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Salmon Burgers

I had a bit of a crazy weekend.  Friday night was nice since I got to hang with my co-workers at a bowling alley after school and then I went to Half Acre with some friends.  Then, Saturday morning I went for a lovely 8.5 mile run.  I got home, showered and then Bri and I packed our laundry into my car and headed out to do our laundry at my parent's house (I know we are so not adults).  Anyways, while we were on the highway, we were cut off by another driver who was changing into our lane.  His car clipped mine and we lost control.  The car spun and hit the median.  By some miracle, we were totally fine and my car was still drivable.  The other guy was also uninjured, but his car was totaled.  He was blamed for the accident so I thankfully don't have to pay for the repairs on my car.  Overall, I am incredibly grateful to be alive, healthy, and able to back to school tomorrow.  

I think the weirdest thing about our weekend was how normal everything else was.  Laundry, book club, cooking, and so on.  It was just a very simple weekend aside from our crazy car crash.  I made these Salmon Burgers recently and they are super tasty.  I'm going to celebrate being alive and normal by eating them :) Oh, and I made a crazy tasty Siracha Greek Yogurt Spread to put on my salmon burgers! 

Salmon Burgers

Ingredients:
1 lb salmon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp chopped Seafood Blend Herbs
1/4 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg



Directions: 
1. Cook the salmon: Place the salmon on a piece of tinfoil and preheat oven to 400.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the salmon and sprinkle salt and pepper on it.  Drizzle with a tsp or two of lemon juice.  Then, wrap in the foil and place on a baking tray.  Cook for 20-25 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.  Let cool.
2. Once salmon is cooled, use a fork to flake pieces of the salmon into a bowl.  Add in the breadcrumbs, herbs, greek yogurt, and mustard.  Stir to combine.  Then, add in the egg and stir to combine.
3. Lightly grease a pan and form a salmon patty.  I made 6 patties with this mixture.  Place in pan and cook over medium for about 4-5 minutes.  Then, flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes.  
4. Serve with a bun or over a bed of greens and if you want, spread some Siracha Greek Yogurt Spread on top! 

Enjoy :)


For the Siracha Greek Yogurt Spread: Use 1/4 cup of yogurt, 1-2 tsp of siracha, 1 tsp lemon juice, and 1 clove garlic (minced).  Stir everything together and you are good to go! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Uncommon Goods



I'm so excited for a bunch of reasons.

1. Today is my last day for this week!
2. I'm hosting book club this weekend.
3. Uncommon Goods reached out to me and offered to send me some of their products!

They are the coolest.  Seriously.  I can't even decide on what I want from their site since there are so many amazing products.  I'm obviously a big fan of food and math so I was considering this adorable pie dish.

So here is their story: Uncommon Goods is all about creating amazing handmade, recycled and organic products.  They are invested in creating a positive workplace that gives back.  And, they are constantly promoting environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.  Basically, they rock.  Their employees love to work there and they are pretty much totally internet based so that they can cut down on paper products such as catalogs.  Plus, their products are super freaking cute!

UncommonGoods

I can't believe how many amazing products have caught my eye.  With the holidays right around the corner I think that some great pages to check out are: Kitchen and Bar, Home and Office, and Gifts for Family.  In addition to all of this, they also have some amazing art pieces that are totally affordable.  This site is going to be a great place to get a jump start on my holiday shopping.  Plus, I have been trying to spruce up our apartment lately and I have already found a bunch of options that I think will be great for our place!  So, whether you are a fellow chef, wine lover, or have an online shopping addiction, you need to know about this site!  Head on over and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesdays

We booked our honeymoon flights!!!! We're officially going to Hawaii!  We are going to Maui and Kauai and we couldn't be more excited! Now we have to work on finding places to stay and I am pretty sure we are going to look into a VRBO.  Any suggestions?

Also, now that we know where we are going, it would be great to hear any ideas of things to do/places to eat/sights to see.

We have never been to Hawaii and I can't wait! August is going to be one extraordinary month this year!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sweet Potato Black Bean Veggie Burgers with BBQ Caramelized Onions

I have a pretty sweet week at school right now.  I survived Monday.  We reviewed graphing quadratics and I had cheer practice after school.  And now I have Tuesday, which I am already all planned for!  Wednesday is Veterans Day and so we do not have school and then Friday is a Teacher Institute Day.  So, I only have two more days of teaching this week!  Crazy!

Today I went to my boot camp class in the morning.  It was super tough since I was still sore from my work out on Saturday.  This past weekend I was hanging out in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin with my bestie, Tamara.  She took me with her to her work out on Saturday morning.  Slow motion push-ups are officially my least favorite exercise.  They are weirdly easy at first, but then you feel like your arms might just fall off for the next three days...Then today we did SLOW MOTION PUSH UPS!  I couldn't believe it.  I'm half way through my boot camp class when the instructor told us that we were going to do them.  We have never done slow motion push ups before, but of course we did today.  Now, I can barely lift my arms above my head.  Ouch.  I guess the good news is that if I keep doing them I'll have awesome looking arms for my wedding dress :)

Sweet Potato Black Bean Veggie Burgers


Ingredients:
1 sweet potato
3 scallions
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp of cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 red pepper, chopped
3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 egg
8 whole wheat buns
cheese if you want (we used colby jack)
BBQ Caramelized Onions:
1 red onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
BBQ sauce, to taste

Directions:
1. Peel the sweet potato and use your food processor with a grate attachment to grate the sweet potato.  If you don't have this, you can use a cheese grater with the largest holes.  Place sweet potato pieces in a large bowl.
2. Put the black beans in the food processor and pulse a few times to mash the beans.  Add these to the bowl with the sweet potato.
3. Mix in the scallions, cilantro, cumin, paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, salt, red pepper pieces, and oats.  Stir well.
4. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Mix the egg in with the other ingredients and place the mixture in the fridge to chill until the oven is ready.
6. Once ready, form 8 balls with the mixture and press into burger shaped rounds.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes and then flip and bake for another 15 minutes.
7. For the caramelized onions, add onion slices, olive oil and bbq sauce to a pan.  Heat over medium until onion becomes translucent and soft.  Serve on top of burgers and feel free to add any other toppings!

Enjoy :)


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesdays

We want to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon.  Ideas? Suggestions? Help!

In other news, the Save the Dates went out, my friend Alyson is going to be designing our invitations (which is the coolest thing ever!) and my bridesmaids are working on getting their measurements taken so we can start ordering dresses!

Things are really coming together.  In fact, I figured planning the honeymoon would be a great thing to do now since we are kinda in a lull in every other area!  Please give me whatever advice you can on planning for a trip like this! We'd love to go to Maui and Kauai and spend about 3 nights in each place. Thanks!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mini Dark Chocolate M&M Skillet Brownies

I know that this is exactly what we don't need right after Halloween, but look at how amazing these brownie skillets look!!!! Plus, you can throw in any candy pieces that you have lying around from trick-or-treating.  My mom gave me and Bri a "Halloween Goody Bag."  So, now I have Justin's Peanut Butter Cups, Pumpkin Spice Latte M&Ms, Halloween Oreos, Halloween Gummies, and more.  It's a little crazy.  I'm trying to eat healthy and here I have a giant bag full of deliciousness.  I just need to make sure not to eat it all at once...

Halloween was super fun.  I was Lois Lane and Bri was Clark Kent.  It was pretty adorable.  We went to a couple halloween parties hosted by friends and overall had a super nice weekend.  

Now, it is back to school time!  

Mini Dark Chocolate M&M Skillet Brownies
(makes two mini skillets)

Ingredients:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup dark chocolate M&Ms

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease your mini skillets.
1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat and stir in chopped bittersweet chocolate until smooth and combined.  Turn off heat and stir in the sugar until well combined.  Next, stir in the eggs until well combined.  Add in the vanilla and salt.  
2. Sprinkle the flour and cocoa powder over your brownie mixture and then stir until just combined.  Stir in the M&Ms.
3.  Divide the batter into your two mini skillets.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  

Enjoy :)


Monday, October 26, 2015

Thai Quinoa Veggie Salad

I just spent a really great weekend up in Minnesota!  Bri, Lauren and I all went there to visit our friends Patrick, Tommy, and Braden.  It was the second time I had ever been there and the first in four years!  Last time I was there it was for the State Fair (which is a crazy awesome State Fair) and so this time I was excited to just sort of hang out and explore Minneapolis.  

We drove there (6.5 hours each way) which means that my weekend felt really short!  We had a great time, but now I feel a little crazed.  I'm up at 5:15 (instead of 4:45) and instead of going to my workout class, I decided to sleep a little longer and get to school a little earlier to catch up on some work and get ready for the week.  

Today is going to be exhausting.  I have school and then after school cheer practice and then after practice we are cheering at a soccer game.  It's an away game so that means I have to go on the bus with the team and then come back.  Last time we did this, I did not get to leave school until after 7:30.  I guess it could be crazier.  Like if this was a night football game it would be much later.  But, after my whirlwind weekend, I know I am going to be beat later.  

Anyways, it has been a little over two weeks since I decided to be healthier, lose a few pounds, and focus on strength training as well as running.  That means that I am running less (way less compared to marathon training) and I am focusing on what I eat more and more.  This recipe is the perfect thing to share.  Plus, Bri has the day off and promised to go grocery shopping and I want to make sure he has a good list of things to buy...(so if you're reading this, Bri, make sure to get these ingredients!).   I made this Thai Quinoa Veggie Salad a while ago, but I never got around to sharing it.  Today it is the perfect thing to share!  This recipe is super simple, the ingredients are awesome for you and on top of it, it is Vegetarian, Gluten Free, and Vegan! 

Thai Quinoa Veggie Salad
(adapted from Avocado Pesto)


Ingredients:
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to directions
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cup grated carrots
2-3 tbsp cilantro, chopped, to taste
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
4 tbsp peanuts, chopped
Dressing:
1 lime, zest and juice
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp tamari (make sure you use gluten free if that is what you are going for!)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:
1. Cook quinoa according to directions and then when it is done, place in a large bowl to cool and combine with the broccoli, red onion, grated carrots, cilantro, green onions, and peanuts.
2. Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients together.  Then, add half the dressing to the bowl and toss everything with the dressing.  Give it a taste and add more dressing as needed.  

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Veggie Sandwiches on Homemade Pretzel Rolls

Remember that time I made Homemade Pretzel Rolls?  Well, then I made some seriously awesome sandwiches with said rolls.  This is their story:

Bri and I love food.  Bri is a vegetarian.  I am trying to eat a little healthier and I've been trying out all sorts of fun veggie-filled recipes.  Then, I came across this recipe and I was like "OMG I HAVE TO MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THAT!"

So that's how these Veggie Sandwiches came to be.  I had one for lunch at school and made everyone a little jealous.  Now I am just drooling thinking about them.  

School has been pretty great lately.  My students did a fantastic job on their last quiz and I am excited by how well they are doing overall!  We are in the middle of a unit on solving systems of equations, inequalities, and matrices.  It's pretty fun.  My cheer-girls are also awesome.  They had their first pep rally on Friday and it was a total success.  They did this amazing cheer, dance, and stunt and it was so cool to see them looking so happy and doing such a great job.  I am coming up with a new dance for them and I am also working on incorporating some fun math activities for my students.  I'll keep you all posted! 

Veggie Sandwiches on Homemade Pretzel Rolls

Ingredients:
2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
2 red pepper, sliced
1 orange pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
1 avocado, sliced
Goat Cheese Spread:
8 oz goat cheese
1 bulb of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper
Red Pepper Sauce:
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. You need to roast the whole bulb of garlic for the goat cheese spread.  Cut off the base of the bulb so that the cloves are visible.  Place this on a piece of tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap in the tinfoil and place in the oven for 35 minutes at 400 degrees.  Once done, you should be able to squeeze the roasted garlic cloves right out of the bulb.
2. Make the roasted red pepper sauce: In a food processor, place all the ingredients except for the olive oil and salt/pepper.  Process until you have a smooth sauce then continue to process as you add in the olive oil.  Stir in the salt and pepper to your taste.  Set aside.
3. Wrap the sliced portabellas in tinfoil with the 1 minced garlic clove for the sandwiches and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Place foil packet in a small pan over the stove and heat over warm until the mushrooms are cooked, about 5-10 minutes.  
4. Wrap the sliced peppers and onion in a packet of tinfoil: Place all the veggies on the tinfoil and then sprinkle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper and paprika.  Wrap the veggies up and place in a pan over the stove.  Heat on warm until veggies become translucent, about 10-15 minutes.  
5.  Once veggies are done, remove from heat.
6. Make the goat cheese spread, once your garlic bulb is roasted, squeeze the cloves out into a food processor with the goat cheese, basil, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Process with adding in the 2 tbsp of olive oil until you have a nice spread.  Use a spatula to get the goat cheese into a bowl.  (I ended up with a lot of extra of this stuff so place it in a container so you can put it in the fridge when you are done.)
7.  Assemble the sandwiches!  Spread some goat cheese on one piece of bun and some red pepper sauce on the other piece.  Place some peppers and mushrooms over the goat cheese and then top with a slice of avocado.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

I love meals that are super easy and super delicious.  This is definitely one of those.  All you do is throw a bunch of stuff into a pot, let it get warm, and then enjoy!  Now that the weather is getting colder, this is the perfect type of meal to come home to.  

In other news, I'm a cheer coach at my school and this is the first year we have a cheer team.  Almost none of the girls had any prior experience and we just had our first game!  It was so exciting to see them out there cheering and they did a really great job.  I love that I became involved in this and I can't wait for more games.  This Friday we have a pep rally and the girl's are performing a cheer and a dance.  They're pretty nervous, but they are looking so great!  They have worked really hard and it is exciting to see them become so invested in something.  Today we have a practice and then a dinner where we are going to hang out about make some cheer bows!  It's gonna be awesome.  

So, although tonight I am having pizza with my cheerleaders, I still wanted to share this great chili recipe that I made recently.  Then, I can't wait to share how the bow-making goes and how the pep rally goes tomorrow!  The chili recipe is totally relevant because now that cheer is taking over my afternoons, I ahve less time to cook when I get home!  This chili recipe is going to be making quite a few appearances in our apartment in the near future...

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili
(adapted from Cait's Plate)

Ingredients:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 red peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp southwest chipotle powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
Toppings: Crumbled Goat Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Directions:
1. In a large pot, over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add in the peppers and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add in the rest of the ingredients.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  
2. Serve with whatever toppings you want.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wedding Planning Wednesday: Invitations

I'm pretty ahead of the game right now.  Invitations don't need to go out until 2 months before the big day.  However, my cousin Jenny is like the DIY Invitation Queen and she offered to meet with me to help me shop and decide on invites.  So far, I have been gravitating towards the ones I found on Etsy, but I have also looked at PaperSource, and Minted.

If anyone has any suggestions for me, please let me know!

I like the look of something more casual or vintage and I don't want to break the bank!

Here are some of the ones I found that I think are great:







Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Homemade Pretzel Rolls

After you run a marathon, you get this special "eat whatever you want" pass.  This can be dangerous with me since I'll crave something weird and then I'll go an make it.  However, this year I didn't really crave anything that strange.  I have been super into pretzel things lately though.  I decided that I needed to make my own pretzel rolls and then I used them to make sandwiches for lunch or dinner.  They were pretty simple to make.  You just need a lot of time since you have to let the dough rise.  As a post-marathon snack.  These guys are great since they are filling and a little salty.  For a school lunch, they are also amazing since they are a little bigger than slider sized.  They made for the perfect sized sandwich when I don't have a ton of time to eat!  

Today I have to go back to school after a long weekend.  That is always a little tough.  However, I am excited to see my students and get back into a routine.  I am also trying to get myself moving again so that I can work through some of my soreness.  So, I am up early and I am going to walk on the treadmill in my building.  I'm hoping that once I start I'll feel better.  

I am also planning on heading over the LA Fitness sometime this week for a morning class.  I haven't been there in a really long time and I feel guilty about having this gym membership that I haven't been using.  So, I am going to pack a shower bag and try out a morning workout at the gym.  

Then, since I'm getting my workouts done in the morning, I will have more time to make these awesome rolls again in the afternoon! 

Homemade Pretzel Rolls
(adapted from Mel's Kitchen)

Ingredients:
1 tbsp active yeast
2 tbsp canola oil
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt
6 1/2-8 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
3 quarts water
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup baking soda
salt for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Heat the milk and water in the microwave for about a minute.  They should be warm.  Then, in a large bowl, combine the yeast, canola oil, milk, water, and salt.
2. Using a mixer, a spoon, or your hands.  Start to add in 6 cups of flour.  Mix until you have a dough-like consistency.  Add flour as needed so that it is not too sticky.  Once your dough comes together, knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should form a ball and be slightly springy.
3. Grease a separate, large bowl and place the dough in.  Cover with a towel and pace in a draft-free area for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. 
4. Punch down the risen dough and start to peel off pieces to make small balls.  You should end up with 16 balls of dough.  Gently roll each ball and let sit on a baking tray or the counter for about 20 minutes.  
5. While the dough balls are resting, pour the 3 quarts of water, sugar and baking soda into a large pot.  Bring to a boil on the stove.  
6. Take 4 balls of dough at a time, pinch one side of the dough to gather it into a ball-like shape and place in the boiling water.  Let them boil on each side for 30 seconds - 1minute each.  Place each finished piece of dough on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking pan.  Repeat this process with all the dough pieces.
7. Preheat the oven to 425.
8.  Using  a very sharp knife, slice a few slits into each ball of dough.  Sprinkle some coarse salt over each one.
9.  Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy!