Travel Plans and Freekeh+Turkey loaf

Good morning friends! There’s nothing like opening up your inbox and seeing this deal of the day from Groupon:

$14 for not one- but two singing Justin Beiber toothbrushes?! I’m on it! Seriously. I am.

**

I want to talk a little bit about upcoming vacations and travel plans. My husband and I like to get away several times each year to various parts of the country. Since I am a school teacher, I am a little bit limited to when I can travel during the school year- it usually has to fall during winter or spring break. I can’t just take off a random week in October or February to go somewhere, which is also why we got married in the month of July. There are two places that we travel to each year: Colorado and Boston. I have family in Denver, so we usually stay with them for a bit and then travel to other parts of the state like Boulder, Frisco, Breckenridge, Golden, etc.
We also always visit Greg’s dad in Boston (usually twice a year) and combine the visit with a game at Fenway to see the Red Sox.

Greg and I are very good about budgeting for travel. We have a knack for finding cheap flights and hotels and take advantage of AAA deals and credit card reward points. We also typically take vacations where we don’t spend much money while we are there – and most of our big trips are for hiking.

This year, we have a few trips on the books. First is a long weekend in Florida (finally!) to see Greg’s mom and stepdad. We’ve been together nearly five years, and I’ve never been down there to see them- and this visit is long overdue. For some reason, the costs of flights into Tampa have been astronomical, but we were able to finally get a decent deal. We leave next Friday evening and come back Monday, and thanks to MLK day, I already have that Monday off work. I’m really excited – and I know my mother-in-law is too! And conveniently, her birthday falls on the weekend that we’ll be down there visiting.

We will probably travel to Boston for a few days during my spring break- but unfortunately, the Sox don’t play a single home game during that week! It’s okay though- it just means that we’ll have to go up again in the summer to catch a game. I love Boston- it is one of my favorite cities to walk around. I also have a few friends that live in or just outside of the city, so it’s nice to be able to see them, too. Plus, flights from Baltimore to Boston are almost always $39 each way, so it’s a very reasonable trip to afford.

At Cask 'n Flagon before the Sox game- my first trip to Boston with Greg (I think we'd been dating all of one month at that point!)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m dying to move to Colorado. I think about it every single day, and hope to be out there within a few years (the hubs is 100% into this). But for now, I just settle for a visit or two each year. Greg and I have already decided to spend our one year anniversary in Colorado (in July), but will almost definitelyΒ  be taking a long weekend trip during the first weekend of May as well. The reason for this you ask? To attend the BLEND retreat that Janetha is co-hosting! I was so stoked when I heard about this, because it’s being held in one of my absolute favorite places in Colorado- Chautauqua Park (home of the Flat Irons!). I’m also a big fan of Janetha’s blog- it’s one of the first blogs that I ever read and still follow it every day.

(I think I took that picture on my first ever trip to Colorado, but I have about 100 others like it from other visits!)

Any excuse to travel to Colorado is a good one- but I am particularly excited to combine my love for Colorado with my love for blogging. And this retreat apparently isn’t “typical” of other conferences, in that it doesn’t include seminars and lectures. Basically it will be a chance for bloggers (and readers) to hang out, hike, exercise and eat together in a laid-back atmosphere. There are so many other bloggers that I’m excited to meet and I’m hoping will be attending! I’ve never been to any type of blogger conference or retreat, so it will be a very cool to finally experience that. AND this one is very reasonably priced. πŸ™‚

Greg and I will both be traveling to Colorado for this- but he won’t be attending the retreat. His best friend lives in Boulder, so they’ll probably be mountain biking together the whole time.

As for other travel plans after July, who knows… there are so many other cities that I want to see that I’ve never been to (namely Chicago, Austin, San Diego) but you can only do so much.

**

Onto a completely unrelated topic (because I could talk about travel plans forever…) I want to share a recipe for the dinner that I whipped up last night. I had some ground turkey in the fridge, and figured I would turn it into some form of turkey burgers for dinner. But, by the time I got home, I wanted to be a little more creative (or maybe I was just still on a high from my deep tissue massage!). I decided to combine the turkey with some freekeh and veggies and make a form of meatloaf.

I put the freekeh on the stove to cook and ground up some veggies:

Then combined the ingredients with some ground turkey and formed it into a loaf pan. There’s really no way to make this look pretty.

And an hour later, it was cooked.

(Greg requested ketchup on top)

Not pretty- but very tasty!

Because I was feeling too lazy to make more interesting, I also added the two easiest sides to the plate: a baked sweet potato and baked kale. Simple and delicious!

Freekeh+Turkey Loaf

1 c. cooked freekeh (which is 1/3 c dry) – could be substituted for another grain such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc.

1/2 lb. lean ground turkey (I used 99% lean, but would probably use one with a bit more fat next time)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 c. bread crumbs

2 T Bragg’s liquid aminos

1 T dijon mustard

1 T tomato paste

1 small carrot

1/2 small bell pepper

1/3 small red onion

2 T sun-dried tomatoes

1 small bunch sage leaves

1/2 T of the following: thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder

salt+pepper to taste

ketchup (for the topping)

Pre-heat oven to 375. Dice all of the vegetables and herbs in a food processor and place into a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the ketchup, and mix together by hand until well-incorporated. Transfer mixture into a small loaf pan and cover with foil. Place in the oven on the lowest rack and cook for 45 minutes. Remove loaf from oven, remove foil and evenly spread ketchup over the top. Place back into the oven uncovered and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165.

Luckily, I have enough of this leftover for two future lunches. Hopefully the old standard of meatloaf leftovers tasting even better will still ring true!

Do you travel to the same places each year?

Are you going to the BLEND retreat? πŸ™‚

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26 Comments on “Travel Plans and Freekeh+Turkey loaf”

  1. Sarah says:

    Sounds like a fun retreat! I’ve always wanted to go to one of those hlb retreats or conferences but this year I’m saving all my travel funds for Rome. I love Colorado too!! I’m so exhausted of Washington DC but unfortunately it’s where you can find jobs in my field.

    I think that ugly food that tastes great is the best!!

  2. Patty says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I also plan to move to Colorado. Unlike you though, I have never been and plan to begin my research this year. I have a good friend in Denver already and another couple is moving there over the next two months. I’m hoping to plan a visit in August.

    I was somewhat disappointed that Matt didn’t want to go to school out there but I’m working on getting Nathan interested.

    I’m interested in thoughts on different cities.

    Patty

    • Lauren says:

      Patty- you should go with us in May! Mike and Greg can go ride bikes all day and then we can catch them at night. Think about it! πŸ™‚
      And I hope you move to Colorado, too! We can take over a gym out there and teach all the spinning, step and Bodypump classes. πŸ™‚

      • lgsmash says:

        hello! just found your blog through another and wanted to say hi! i live in denver and HIIIIIIGHLY recommend moving here. I’m also attending the Blend Retreat so I’ll see ya there!

  3. I hear such great things about Colorado. It seems to lend itself to a very active and outdoorsy lifestyle. We are not the biggest travelers. Glenn used to travel the world with his job but as far as vacations it’s pretty much just driving north 6 hours to Fresno to see family. I would love to have the money to take our whole family of 5 to Hawaii one day. I adore Hawaii so much.

    • Lauren says:

      I want to go to Hawaii so bad. It was my number 1 choice for my honeymoon but Greg wasn’t in agreement. At least in California there are so many wonderful, diverse destinations you can drive to!

  4. I’ve never heard of or seen Freekeh before! interesting!

    And I just heard about the Blend retreat recently. I’d love to go, but not sure if I’ll be able to swing it financially because I have SO MANY weddings in 2012!!

    • Lauren says:

      I’m seriously on a mission to introduce more people to freekeh because it is so wonderful! And I THINK it’s 2 pp for 1/4 c. uncooked- maybe even 1/3- which bulks up when it’s cooked. It’s super high in fiber and delicious!
      But- don’t buy it at Whole Foods- it’s super expensive- unless you can find it in bulk. It’s really cheap in bulk at my co-op.
      Hope you can make it to Blend- but I completely understand about the weddings!

  5. Katie says:

    I am a Colorado native and LOVE it!! I have lived other places but always find my way back out here. πŸ™‚
    You seem to really like to push yourself, so I have a workout suggestion while you are here visiting. “It Burns Joe” (google it) does a workout at Red Rocks Ampitheatre every Sunday morning. It runs two to three hours and is killer. I think you would really enjoy it. You should try to make it there even just to watch. The people that can complete it are animals!!!

    Safe Travels and Happy New Year!

    • Lauren says:

      That sounds awesome! My husband was just reading over my post and asked if I had seen your comment. We did a VERY steep hike at Red Rocks last June (which was on a Sunday morning actually!) where we had to basically slide on our butts to get down. πŸ™‚

  6. Maren says:

    We usually travel to the same places. Why fix it if it aint broke?! Your sweet potato looks so delicious.

  7. Gil says:

    I keep wanting to try freekeh “meat”balls, but now I wonder if it would be yummier with some actual meat mixed in…
    I always have a running mental list of top countries to visit…dreaming about it is half the fun!

  8. That does sound like a fun retreat—and such great travel plans for you all!! πŸ™‚

    I LOVE CO and WILL one day live there too! Wheeee!

  9. Lee says:

    I would love to go to that retreat but with my lack of job right now, I don’t see it happening. However, maybe that will change. I love the bloggers that are coordinating it (Janetha, Katie and Lindsay).

    • Lauren says:

      You have to go! I have to meet my sista from another mista! And if you don’t, you will have to meet up with me next time you come to Maryland!

  10. Sara R. says:

    Argh, I knew I forgot something while I was at the Common Market today! I really want to try freekeh. And I am more the type who likes to explore new places…I’ve loved most of the places I’ve been, but it’s a big world and I want to see as much of it as possible!

  11. Liz says:

    I’m not sure if I will go to the retreat, but I’d love to meet up while you are out in CO!

  12. janetha says:

    That looks DELICIOUS. And yay, BLEND!

  13. I too work in education, and it is always a pain booking vacations. Yes, we get a lot of time off, but it’s never when we choose. It also always when the rest of the world wants to travel, so it cost twice as much.

  14. Corrie Anne says:

    Ohh.. so I misunderstood your comment on my blog. You want to move TO Boulder. I’m sure you’d love it!! Maybe I should go to that conference!! Haha. It looks fun!

    • Lauren says:

      Yes… well, outside of Boulder. I like Louisville.
      You should definitely go to the conference- and I think it’s only like $75 for the whole weekend.

  15. […] lunch: leftover freekeh-turkey loaf; salad with mixed greens, roasted veggies, feta and balsamic vinegar; small apple; 1/3 of a Clif Z […]

  16. Please come to Boston!!! πŸ™‚ The retreat sounds interesting!

    • Lauren says:

      I will definitely be in Boston at least once this year (probably 2 or 3 times). It’s so easy for us to go because it’s less than $100 round trip (and a short flight) and we can stay with Greg’s dad for free. He lives in Weymouth (do you know where that is?).
      I think we’ll be there for my spring break in April- I would love to meet up!!


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