Saturday, June 29, 2013

Spanish Missions, Bellinis, and Redneck Triathlons....

Almost 2 weeks down in San Antonio. It continues to grow on me. My travel nursing assignment has been....well, let's just say "Reality is not meeting Expectations". Due to some classes and paperwork that my agency wasn't aware the hospitals needed -- my contract is getting backed up a few weeks. Meaning I won't start my contract until July 8. Is it frustrating? Yes. Am I losing hair and sleep over this? You betcha. 

But I've done everything I can to have control over this situation, and there is nothing further I can do but wait. I'm losing my cool keeping a positive attitude. But let's just say I don't do well with free time. And I don't even have a house to clean! Just a hotel room. I actually clean after the cleaning service comes-- but most days I tell them I don't need their services. I don't like the way they clean or fold my towels.

What have I done to keep busy? I've channeled my inner "trophy wife" -- and cooked delicious breakfasts for Ryan (poached eggs with arugula, feta & tomato omelets....). I've made "No-bake" granola bars and protein balls. (We don't have an oven).  Many miles have been put on the running shoes and the road bike. (I AM SO GLAD I BROUGHT MY BIKE!)

So over the past week here are a few of the things I saw/tried out.......

  • Spanish Missions. If you ever come to San Antonio -- this is a must see! But I will recommend you not visit in June or July. It is uncomfortably hot and sticky. There are 5 - but due to it being 103 degrees and miserably humid - I only saw 3. Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan, Mission San Jose. These missions were established in the 18th Century by the Franciscans for an outreach for the Spanish Govt and Catholic Church. 4 of the 5 still function as active parishes. They are free to visit, which is always a plus -- and each has a visitor center with tour guides who are very knowledgeable! Below I will share a few photos!
  • The San Antonio Greenway System. This is a trail system that goes throughout San Antonio. It's 1200 acres and goes MILES AND MILES. There are water fountains set up throughout the whole system, bathrooms, picnic areas, and it's mostly shaded by trees -- which is fantastic for these hot summer workouts. I will be doing a separate post on my review of the parks and trail stay tuned for that :-)
  • This school Ryan is all about the "word hard, play hard" policy. It's how they keep their sanity. Many long days of class, flying, and studying -- so taking advantage of any free time is huge. The other night after his test we went out for a celebratory happy hour. We tried a restaurant nearby called Pompeii Italian Grill. Their happy hour has $3 glasses of wine, bellinis, and draft beer. That is an insane deal! And their bellini was delicious! Paired with a plate of caprese....I was a happy wife. 
  • Red Neck it's time for a story. Yesterday I went road biking out in the countryside of San Antonio -- it was miles and miles of nothing but corn fields, cattle, and open air. About 15 miles down the road, I came through the main street of a town called Marion, TX. From a distance I saw a sign, and the only words made out was "Triathlon". My heart started racing with excitement! I started racing closer to find out more information. When I got close.....I was a tad disappointed (and nearly peeing myself in laughter ) -- the sign read: "REDNECK TRIATHLON JUNE 29 - BOWLING, SKEET SHOOTING, AND BEER PONG". Not exactly my type of tri......
I hope this finds everyone having a good weekend.  We plan on checking out the Japenese Tea Gardens, doing some road biking, and going to the Alama Drafthouse (movie theater/brewery.....amazing!). So it should be full of more fun and adventure.

 Mission San Jose -- this was probably my favorite - they actually had the living quarters where the Franciscans would live.
 Alter of the Mission Concepcion. These statues were apparently dated to the 1700's -- they are structured from corn husks and plaster. Beautiful
 Franciscan gardens and living quarters...
 Inside Mission San Jose
 Mission Concepcion. The door is called a "key hole feature" -- which is a Spanish architectural staple. The keyhole has not only beauty, but theological meaning....

Mission San Jose - I was not able to go into this one because it is an active mission and they were in prayer at that time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

White Bean Chicken Pasta

You need a stove to cook a delicious pasta meal....they said.

You're going to have to eat out every night if you're going to live in a hotel......they said.

Well here is me defying what "they said". Now I never said this doesn't take extra planning and patience. But it CAN be done, my friends! I was told last week while explaining our current living situation,  "It's going to get old and expensive eating out every night!" I responded in shock, "Oh, we haven't been going out to eat. I'm cooking! I bought a hot plate!"

**Awkward stares......A what-plate?!**

I had never heard of a hot plate either. But it's serving me well so far! I obviously miss our gas stove... Our blender..... The Kitchen-aid food processor.  The dishwasher. But "kitchen, kitchen, on the wall (the kitchen is this room is literally a little station on the wall), what is the most prized possession of all????

The Garbage Disposal.

My God. How did I survive in a time without one?!?! My gag reflex is strongly stimulated when I finish washing dishes....and those chunks of soggy food are in that little plug. Blech!!Ack! Yuck!

So last night we were on our way home from a coffee shop. I was working on more never-ending paperwork for my travel assignment. Ryan was studying (he pretty much studies 24/7 with this school). As we passed Chipotle ....Ryan grinned at me, and said and trying to convince me, said "Babe, you don't have to cook. I know you just want to pick up food there and just go home and relax." But determined, I said, "No! I have chicken thawed, and a pantry full of food. I'm cooking tonight!"

And disappoint I did not. I threw together a recipe that may be one of my new favorites. The cool part is although I served this as a pasta last night. I had some of the leftovers for lunch, nixed the pasta, and put the meat and sauce on a bed of spinach -- and wallah - salad!

So here is my recipe! For any GF folks out there, I bet this would be really good over quinoa too!

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, marinated in a bag of EVOO & balsalmic vinegar
  • 1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 can whole, crushed tomatoes
  • 14 ounces Canelli/white beans
  • 1 cup spinach (I used spinach, endive, chard, kale because that's what was in my "Power Greens" bag)
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • S & P to taste
  • Basil 
  1.  Marinate Chicken breasts in bag with EVOO & Balsalmic Vinegar for about 4 hours.
  2. Cook chicken over medium heat. Once both sides are seared, add the onion and peppers.
  3. Add in crushed tomatoes. Season dish with S, P, and Basil
  4. Simmer on low, add in the white beans and tomato sauce.
  5. Prior to removing, throw in the spinach. 
  6. Once wilted/cooked - Serve over pasta. (I had to premake my pasta before cooking this, as I had only 1 burner to work with.) ;)
My only suggestion after this, is I bet it'd be really good with ground turkey instead of chicken. This was delicious, but I think that will be tried next time!

 Notice our lovely dining room table. Oh wait, that's the bed ;) 

Happy Monday!