Orange Chicken recipe…who needs take out?

I’ve been trying to expand my normal mid-week meals, so decided to try a version of Orange Chicken after doing some research.  As most of you know, I never strictly follow recipes, more so use them as guidelines.

Here’s my version of Orange Chicken, made easy…


Cube 6 chicken thighs-I prefer the thigh as the flavor of the meat is richer.  You can use the breast, but I find it tends to dry out.

Next, separate 4 eggs, keeping only the whites.  Place them in a bowl large enough to hold your cubed chicken.

Whisk in a couple tablespoons of corn starch until the mixture becomes frothy…Add in your chicken and coat well.  Season with salt and pepper, mix again, and set aside while you prepare the Orange sauce.

Orange Sauce:

In a sauce pan combine the following ingredients:

The juice of 2 oranges, along with a teaspoon of the zest (**set the zest aside to add at the end)

Soy sauce-I use low sodium/gluten free but feel free to use your favorite…1/4 cup give or take.

1 cup of stock, whatever you have on hand

A couple splashes of rice wine vinegar

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 clove of garlic, minced (or use a micro plane, MUCH easier)

1 teaspoon of minced ginger (use that micro plane again, trust me!)

1 teaspoon of honey

A splash of sesame oil-don’t forget this, as it really adds depth to the sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

**Have a small cup of water with cornstarch mixed in to add at the end, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  This will help thicken the glaze.  Just before serving add in your reserved orange zest.

While your sauce is simmering, heat a wide/deep pan with oil.  I used avocado oil as I love the flavor it adds, but use your favorite frying oil.  Fry the chicken in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Brown the chicken on each side, cooking through evenly.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate and finish with a pinch of salt.

To serve, place a cup of your favorite rice or noodles in the bottom of a deep bowl.  Add your favorite veggies (I used steamed broccoli and shredded carrots)

Spoon your orange glaze over just before serving (this helps keep the crunch to the chicken), and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Dinner is served!  I love the fact that my family prefers this type of food over take out any day of the week!

Orange Chicken served over jasmine rice with steamed veggies...YUM
Orange Chicken served over jasmine rice with steamed veggies…YUM

This was (as cooking always is) some much needed therapy after a stressful day!

What’s your favorite meal to prepare during the week?  Do you prefer home cooked or take out food?

Keep Movin’ forward gang,



A little lost…

After having spent last weekend with my husband celebrating our ten year anniversary, I found myself quickly slapped in the face with the reality of work, life, etc. I don’t hide the fact that my job is just a job, and not a passion.  I don’t hide things very well.  And it all hit me like a ton of bricks this past week.

I didn’t want to run. Wait…I don’t want to run.  Major issue.  But I have literally NO motivation or desire.  Dropping temps with snow and ice have left my heart…well…cold.  My running shoes have sat dormant minus a couple dreadmill runs that were honestly terrible.

Last weekend I spent the weekend with my husband, cooking, drinking wine, and enjoying good food.  And I felt the pull…I want to be a Chef.  I love to create food. It’s my one GO TO place no matter the weather, time constraints, or stress.  I love…to cook. I may not be a Chef…but I have that desire.

So here’s a few pics of last week since I’ve been absent.

our first cooking class!
our first cooking class!
bacon wrapped dates
bacon wrapped dates
stuffed pork chops, YUM
stuffed pork chops, YUM
homemade meatballs with spaghetti
homemade meatballs with spaghetti
My happy place
My happy place

So with my November goals falling short, I will push forward with writing, cooking, and working out as often as possible.  Thank you all for your unending support.  May this winter funk end, soon!


moving forward, running

One week to go…squelcher and all…

I have been battling sickness for the entire week.  My PTO bank is nearly empty, and I have a race to run in just over one week.

So what did I do tonight, after a long day at work?

I cooked.  I washed my hands, cleared my throat, took my sinus meds, took another deep breath…and I cooked. I made my famous chicken soup, of course, because what else do you eat when you aren’t feeling well?

The recipe can be found here:

This week has been a toughy…sickness, seeing so many lose loved ones, and just in general discord lead me to write this post.

Because at the end of the day, isn’t it all about what brings us joy?

So tonight I dusted off my knives, prepared dinner with my youngest sous chef by my side, reminding myself not to be the squelcher of joy in my kids lives. Because sadly, I have found myself being a squelcher.

What is a squelcher you ask?  It’s the one who constantly nags, clean you room, get your elbows off the table, do your chores, oh, and is your homework done all on a Friday night when they should be able to let their hair down…meh, I suck sometimes.

So tonight, I shut my trap.  I let it all be.  I called my Mom, like any 41 year old woman does, and I vented, chatted, and laughed.  I listened to my kids banter.  I welcomed my husband’s kisses…and I just smiled.

This weekend I will celebrate my eldest daughter’s 15th birthday one week early.  I will rest.  And I will mentally prepare for our half marathon NEXT weekend.

What are you up to this weekend?

❤ Michelle



dedication, food, goals, moving forward

Sometimes you have to step back to move forward

I haven’t blogged in over a week.  There.  I said it. My computer is on the fritz, and to be honest I’ve needed to just unplug somewhat lately.  Less…well, is more lately.  Sometimes you just need a little support and feedback, and social media has more than disappointed me lately.  Bah.

But some key bullet points go a little like this…

We’ve remained nearly on point for our half marathon training.  We did our last super longish run on Friday night, despite the crazy rain, thunderstorms, and tornado warnings.  10 miles, done.  We will do our miles this week, and a semi-long run this weekend to keep consistency but embracing the taper.  Our race is less than 2 weeks away!

We went to Chicago last weekend to get some much needed downtime, and enjoyed some amazing food.


This afternoon my eldest texted me a photo of a note that her “friend” wrote her asking her to homecoming.  My heart was so happy for her, yet sad for me as I see my baby girl growing up into a lady…please. stop. time. But I am thankful she shared this moment, with me…


Tonight, my youngest started her first ballet class, and despite feeling very rushed after work to get home, feed the kids, get homework squeezed in, and a quick shower, (ack, holy commas) we made it to class by 6 pm.  I snuck quite a few peeks in the window, and was taken aback by my daughter’s grace.  She lacks focus, she has a hard time staying on track…but she would see me watching and all of a sudden her ‘position’ moves became seamless.  I couldn’t help but to smile behind my tears.  My parents were always too busy to put me in activities, and I find myself often in the same situation.  So making time for this one hour per week class is almost selfish for it’s for ME too…seeing her joy brings ME such joy.  It’s worth missing out on a run/workout to see her face light up.

tiny dancer

We watched Master Chef tonight…and although I may have sidelined my audition for yet another year due to financial constraints, I still get that pull to my heart watching the contestants compete each week.  Yet I know I don’t have the confidence or skill quite yet…but it’s coming.

So this year I will regroup.  Refocus.  And cook my heart out by recipe from world renowned cook books that sit on my shelf collecting dust.

I may or may not go to the casting call of Master Chef in Chicago on October 11th.  I need to dig deep.  And believe.  But I also know our family cannot sustain on one income.

Time will tell…


dedication, Uncategorized

Sunday Summation of sorts and recipes

Last week was a whirl wind of work, work, and more work.

We missed our long run today voluntarily due to a 99 real feel temp after I got home from work.  I hated missing our scheduled 10k, but hey, I am smart too…even at 10 pm it shows a real feel of 88 degrees.  Sorry, can’t do it.  The humidity stabs my head with a thousand pound hammer, and I just can’t do it.  I have had a nagging headache for 4 days, and when I got home from work today at 3 pm I changed into my jammies and napped for 45 minutes. Productive?  Nope…but much needed.

I have made a goal of having Sunday Suppers each week, regardless of schedule, time, or energy.

I have spent so much time studying the basics of cooking, so why not put it into play in my own kitchen?

So tonight, I made goat cheese and fig crostini’s with baked salmon that was topped with a garlic herb butter.  Our side was a simple cucumber, red onion, and tomato salad that was tossed in my favorite vinaigrette.

For the figs:

Thinly slice French bread and spread with goat cheese.  I used a garlic herb blend.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Thinly slice figs, placing on top of the bread, add lightly fried bacon, and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Prep time!
Prep time!

For my salmon, it was an easy prep.  I took one stick of unsalted butter brought to room temperature and added 2 cloves of garlic, minced, the zest of one lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, kosher salt and pepper, oregano, and parsley. Mix well, and spread generously on your salmon.  Cook at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the salmon flakes lightly with a fork.


I served the salmon with basmati rice, and a simple salad of red onions (soak sliced in cold water for 10 minutes to reduce the bite), cucumber, and tomato’s.  Dress with a simple lemon/Dijon vinaigrette, and serve!

I sent in my pre-registration for Master Chef on Friday, and am terrified.  I keep getting comments and posts asking “Do you have what it takes?” basically…and now I am second guessing myself, just like I did last year.

Me, and Graham Elliot in 2012.
Me, and Graham Elliot in 2012.

SO I am trying to remain focused, while continuing to study.  Research.  And practice the skill I love so much.


We shall see!

How was your week with exercise and eats?



moving forward, running

Tuesday Truths

1. I have learned in my 41+ years the things that make me happy.  My life goals, my passions, my ‘things’ so to speak…

They are:




*****Spending time with my family and friends (My favorite!)

Simple, right?

I’ve been studying cookbooks and websites to help diversify my cooking abilities.

I’ve been working on speed work, hills, and distance to aid in my running.

I’ve been taking pics, and working harder at editing.  I am saving money for a better editing program.

And, I’ve been working harder at being a better Mom, friend, coworker, and person…sometimes a simple smile, email, text, or hug can make such a huge difference.  Don’t let these moments pass you by.

2.  I pushed myself tonight to run.  Today was called the “hottest day” in Chicagoland this summer, but my 4 mile training run was on deck, so I of course, ran…it was hot…the humidity killed me, but my legs and my heart pushed me through the 4 miles…I thought a lot…about life, relationships, and moving forward.

Holy humid batman!
Holy humid batman!

How do you keep moving forward when times get tough?  What is your favorite fuel for hot running temps?

❤ Michelle


dedication, food, goals

Sammiches and Speed, in no particular order

The new season of Master Chef is upon us, and after watching the first episode last week I decided it is time to step up my game if I ever want to even DREAM of trying out. Regardless of whether or not I try out-I plan on upping my recipe collection and continuing to work on someday writing my own e-cook book. This cook book will encompass not only recipes for fancy dinners, but recipes for people on the MOVE.
So last night for dinner, I made Panini’s.
What you’ll need for a family of 4:
4 chicken breasts, pounded out thin with whatever have in the kitchen…I use a meat tenderizer hammer/gadget
–season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil and pan fry with avocado oil until lightly browned on each side-set aside
4 pieces of genoa salami
8 pieces of Ezekiel bread (or your favorite bread of choice)
thinly sliced parmesan cheese, 2-3 pieces per sammich
2 thinly sliced tomatoes per sammich
1 cup of baby arugula lettuce, 1/4 cup for each sammich give or take…
For the spread:
1/2 cup light mayo, mixed with one clove of garlic minced, 1/2 of a lemon juiced, pinch of oregano, basil, and cayenne pepper.

Preheat your griddle on high, and butter the bread lightly with unsalted low fat butter. Compile your sammiches with the above ingredients, lightly coating each piece of bread with your yummy spread. Once browned lightly, place on a cookie sheet, and see the attached pic for my make shift Panini press.
1-panini press makeshift style
Cook at 325 degrees with the sammiches pressed for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees. I served with pita chips and stuffed tomatoes! The tomatoes were seasoned with evoo, salt, pepper, and stuffed with low fat mozzarella cheese/parmesan cheese and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and parsley.

Quick, easy, and healthy all around for the most part…:-)

Today was run night, so after work I came home and made a quick dinner of tacos and beans before heading out to get our miles in. I can’t eat before I run, so we ate after our run.
I warned my husband who has started his half marathon training full force that I was feeling pretty tired and wasn’t sure about how fast I could go…he nodded, put in his ear buds and we took off. We had a 3 miler (ok, 5K because I can’t just run 3 miles lol) scheduled, and starting out I felt oddly strong. It normally takes me a few miles to warm up yet as we took off I felt strong. We finished our first mile in 8:51, and suddenly my goals switched from easy miles to running our 5K in sub 9 minute miles. Our second mile was a 1/4 mile of up hill so we clocked it at 9:02…I wasn’t going to let this sway my goal of a quick speed work run at this point, so we pushed each other the last 1.2 miles with a 8:50/7:58 min tick.

As a previously known ‘solo’ runner, I have found an inner peace and a new found respect for my husband as we train TOGETHER. We push each other, encourage each other, and at the end of each run we end it with a sweaty high five and “good job.” I still enjoy running alone, don’t get me wrong…but having my husband along side of me during these runs has given me an added boost that I really needed coming off a fall injury. I started to doubt myself this winter, wondering if I would ever run another distance race…wondering, questioning, asking myself CAN I DO THIS ANYMORE??

But I can now say…YES. I can do this…I CAN break my sub-2 half marathon goal THIS year…I don’t NEED anyone other than myself, to say, YES I CAN. But it sure is nice to get accolades from fellow runners, page owners, and blog posters. THIS, brought to you by Run Nerds Rock…he posted it on my page today and I had to choke back the tears…THIS dude, that just ran a 100 miler was telling ME I am bad ass…LOVE it.

And I tell you what…I feel pretty darn bad ass. I am no Kenyan, but my progress makes me proud regardless, in speed work, in the kitchen, and in my life.

Keep Movin’ forward gang…always…

❤ Michelle

dedication, food, goals, moving forward, running

Hey guess what? Two things Tuesday…

I woke up Monday morning literally feeling SICK. I realize I have the worst patience ON. THE. PLANET. And the waiting was killing me. My stomach hurt, my head hurt, but I KNEW I needed to get out of the house and run. Just a mile. Just ONE mile. It had been a week since I’d last ran, and the need outweighed the want ten fold.
So after taking my daughter to school, I allowed myself a teeny nap to try and recharge. It was too cold for me at 9 am (13 degrees, WHA?) so I tried to rest with no luck…
So I got up, had lunch, and texted a friend I knew would prompt me to get outside. Just as I was putting on my headband my phone rang….Yup, you guessed it…I GOT THE JOB!!!! It wasn’t a picture perfect offer, but an offer it was and I snatched it up quickly. As of 31 March I will again be gainfully employed.
I grabbed my Ipod, and headed out the door to get my mile in. I felt giddy and decided I was not going to stress over $$ and just be thankful I had a job lined up. I ran 1.4 miles. Far? No…but I wasn’t just running my neighborhood, I was running OFF the negative crap I allowed myself to get sucked in to. I decided to run as fast as I could (without passing out of course). I ran a 8:54 mile, and the second .4 at 8:38. I left it all out there.
8 min miles

Today, I got up and got my youngest ready for school, did pre-employment paperwork, and headed out for my planned 5 miler at around noon. It was cut short due to stepping in a 6 inch deep puddle filled with freezing water, but I managed just over 4.4 miles regardless. It was a tough run, and I realize the time off I took this winter due to injury/personal issues/polar vortex weather has set me back some. But I kept moving, and allowed myself rest bits to take pics.

One of my favorite bridges on the Fox River trails
One of my favorite bridges on the Fox River trails
clearing of the trails
clearing of the trails
Not my best, but not my worst either!
Not my best, but not my worst either!
My cheering squad!
My cheering squad!
Just me!
Just me!

I was able to keep my miles under a 10 minute pace, but it was NOT easy. My legs were heavy, my breathing off, and guess what? I had a freakin’ blast out there all my lonesome finding cheer leaders along the way between wild life and fellow runners.

Tonight I cooked a simple dinner of curry mango chicken served over pad Thai noodles with a veggie stir fry. I took the help from the store as I am trying to find easier week night meals. I marinated/sautéed my chicken in this yummy sauce purchased at Target:

While the chicken marinated, I chopped veggies…use whatever you like! I used shitake mushrooms, half of a red onion, 2 cups of snow peas, 2 large carrots, and 2 cloves of garlic. Set this aside in a bowl…

20 minutes before you are ready to eat, sauté the chicken in a non stick pan with the marinate. Warm 6 cups of water in a pot, but don’t boil. Just have it ‘hot’ which will precook your pad thai noodles. 10 minutes out, drop in your noodles, and stir fry your veggies in grapeseed oil…add salt, pepper, and low sodium soy sauce. For the last 2 minutes, add in your drained noodles, toss and serve. This meal was easy, and quite the hit.

meal prep
meal prep

Dinner is served!
Dinner is served!

My two things, Tuesday, are this:

Faith…always keep the faith. Even in the darkest hour, and when things don’t always turn out how you may have planned. The man upstairs has bigger plans for us, and we need to take the opportunities he bestows upon us.

Passion…keep your passions in life, even when others may not understand why you do what you do. Even when you may not have time, make the time to do what you love, and do it daily. It will only give you added strength and drive to keep moving forward. For me, my passions are inspiring others, cooking, running, and of course my family and friends.

Keep Movin’ forward gang…allow yourself bad days, but know always tomorrow is a new day to start anew. My heartfelt thanks for all of you amazing support.

dedication, goals

A new year….

I don’t like to look back, too much…yet sometimes I find it soothing to look back on where I once was, and find where I now am is pretty darn incredible.

Today is the first day of 2014, and sadly I woke up to a completely stuffed up nose, and foggy head. I could say it was due to too many drinks last night, but I partied “smart” drinking water in between each of my four cocktails.
But sometimes, working too hard and sleeping too little tends to catch up with the body and eventually that strong body, breaks down. I missed my group run this morning, even after waking up on time as I knew I needed some extra rest.
But the missed run won’t take away from my goals this year.
I don’t ‘do’ resolutions, more so I focus on goals.
So for this year…my goals are as follows.

I will WRITE, daily, if not weekly as time permits.

I will run, 3 times per week, regardless of snow, rain, or inclement weather.

I will start my half marathon training, THIS WEEKEND, and not look back.

I will run for FUN, with friends, and as often as possible.

I will focus on what I HAVE, not what I want…

I will learn more about photography and cooking, which are my two ‘other’ passions besides running.

I will sleep more. Drink more water. Smile more. And eat better.

I will lose 10 lbs, come hell or high water.

I will work on my e-book. Will it be a cook book, motivational book, or inspirational story? I’m not sure yet. But I won’t put it off another year.

Bring on 2014…I have big plans, to build my page, my passions, and my happiness. All of which will benefit my family.

And I’ll stick to this Ab challenge, DAILY!