Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Artful Dodger

I painted something today! I met up with some girlfriends at Paintnite and made this beautiful work of art. :)

It was a lot of fun and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really like the painting I made. I've gone to paint your own pottery classes in the past (we won't even speak of the disaster that was my pottery elective in college) and ended up very dissatisfied with my creations (I'm so much more verbal than I am visual) so it was a pleasant surprise for me to actually like something I've painted.

On other creative fronts, I've decided to do NANOWRIMO this year. I finished a (terrible) novel in 2008 that I'm very proud of (although no one can read it, ever) but this year I'm much more excited about my plot. Hopefully I'll end up with something that I'll let see the light of day. So far I'm 2795 words in. 47205 words to go! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We Can Rebuild Him

I thought I'd write a quick follow up to my chair post. I ended up spray painting my chair a very shiny black and I couldn't be more happy with the results! It reminds me of the surface of a grand piano and looks lovely with my kitchen. The biggest problem with it is that I've managed to lose my shiny black cell phone by leaving it on the shiny black chair. (First world problems, again!)

There are a ton of spray painting tutorials online, so I won't bother adding another. But briefly, I bought a $1 plastic table cloth at Dollar General to protect my backyard- then proceeded to sand (w/ 100 grit sand paper), prime (2 coats of Valspar primer) and paint (3 coats of Rustoleum spray paint) the chair. After about 24 hours of drying, it was done.

Well, it should have been done, anyway. I learned an important lesson about trying to do touch-ups with a nearly empty can of paint. It splatters and then you have to let it dry, sand the messed up part, go buy a new can of paint since you emptied the last one, and respray a couple coats onto the part that you messed up. And once it finally dries and you put it in the kitchen, you realize that shiny black paint is incredibly forgiving and you shouldn't have been OCD about doing touchups anyway. Because a) you will always find a spot that doesn't look 100% perfect to you and b) no one else will ever be able to see it!

My other important learning from this adventure is that the can of primer was much harder to spray than the can of spray paint. I think it's a brand thing and may not use Valspar if I ever need to do this again. My wrist and hand hurt for several days after I primed my chair.

Anyway, I thought I'd end with a couple of photos of how the chair looks in the kitchen (guest starring Pancake, one of my cats!). I took them with my cell phone so I apologize in advance for the low quality!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kitchen Chair

A lifelong dream of mine has always been to have a big, comfy chair in my kitchen. (Dream big, people.) I (obviously) spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I've always thought that it would be really wonderful to have an easy chair in the kitchen.
My current kitchen is pretty big and I've been lobbying hard to put an arm chair against the wall by the door, but Benjy has always thought that a chair that big would disrupt the flow. I've been keeping an eye out for a comfortable chair that isn't too big- and today, I finally found one.
And I got it for $10!!!
I've been wanting to check out the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Portland, and I finally got around to it this afternoon. There wasn't a ton of furniture (lots of cabinets, light fixtures, and doors, though) but there were a few wooden chairs and some nice dressers. I really liked the captain's chair that I ended up buying because it wasn't too big, but was nice and wide and had good arm rests. It's no easy chair but it has good bones and is a good size for the space I have in the kitchen.

I have to admit that the pictures I've taken are very forgiving and it really needs to be varnished or painted. But for $10, I really don't mind spending a little time to make it look shiny and new.
The icing on the cake to this whole story is that when I looked up this kind of chair on the internet, it looks like they run about $145 new. I am the bargain queen!

So what color should I paint my chair?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tempeh is Amazing

I'm not a vegan or a vegetarian, (Obviously- ask me about the two chickens I smoked this weekend- haha) but I really enjoy making meatless dishes and typically eat a meatless dinner a couple of times a week. My breakfasts and lunches are generally meatless, which is easy since I'm not a big fan of bacon or sandwiches.

I'm a huge fan of eggs and beans as protein sources, and I love tofu when I have it in restaurants- but I've never done a good job of preparing it at home. I've basically given up trying to cook it myself.

I've known about Tempeh for a couple of years now, but I've never been called to try it or to try to cook it (because I'm so bad at tofu- I assumed I'd ruin tempeh too) until my friend Chelsea told me that she loves to make sauteed Brussels sprouts and tempeh and drizzle it with sesame oil. I love browning Brussels sprouts in a skillet and I love sesame oil, so I thought I'd give her technique a try! Of course, I put my own spin on it so I thought I'd write out the recipe. This dinner was honestly a million times more delicious than I thought it would be (and a million times more delicious than it looks in the lousy picture I've posted), and incredibly easy. So next time you're looking for some meatless Monday inspiration, give this a try!

Marinate the Tempeh:

Tempeh, cut into 1/4" thick slices
1/2 C soy sauce
1/2 C rice wine vinegar
1 t Sesame oil

Combine Soy Sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Marinate the sliced tempeh from 20 minutes to several hours

Cook the sprouts:

1 dozen Brussels Sprouts, halved
Olive Oil

Cook the Brussels sprouts in a skillet in olive oil until they are easily pierced with a fork and the flat sides are a little browned. 101 Cookbooks has a great explanation of how to do this- just don't add any cheese to this particular batch.

Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook the Tempeh:

1 shallot sliced (or half an onion)
Tempeh in Marinade
olive oil

Fry the shallot in olive oil until it is soft and a little brown. Add to the sprouts, reserving the oil. Fry the tempeh for about 3 minutes a side, until the marinade is reduced and the tempeh is golden brown and heated through. Add to the bowl with the sprouts and onions. Drizzle with additional sesame oil and squeeze a quarter of a lime over everything. Stir to combine and serve with mashed butternut squash (recipe below).

Mashed butternut squash:

1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into large chunks- I bought mine this way because I am lazy)

1 T coconut oil (or butter, if don't care that it's not vegan- I wanted to stick with the theme)

salt and pepper to taste

Microwave the squash in a covered bowl with a splash of water for 10 minutes. Mash the squash and add the oil, salt and pepper.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Winter is Coming

September has arrived and some cooler weather has rolled right in with it! I'm loving it- and loving the fact that my friends visiting from the south this past weekend got to enjoy some refreshingly cool temperatures!
Of course, my enjoyment of the weather is tempered by the knowledge that it's going to get a lot colder before I know it! My issue tends not to be with the weather outside, but with the brisk 62 degrees inside the house. I maintain my office at a higher temperature (since it has a separate electric heater that is much cheaper than our ancient oil heating system) and the house warms up once I use the oven to make dinner- but the couple of hours before I start making dinner (we like to eat around 8pm) tend to be dark and cold. So, a reminder to myself: The gym is always warmer than my house!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kitties Love Couscous

I made an excellent chicken and apricot tagine last night (basically Moroccan spiced braised chicken served over couscous) and both cats begged shamelessly for bites of chicken at dinner. I reheated some again today and they were once again swarming me. It's pretty normal for them to be pests at dinner, but they usually leave me alone at lunch! My conclusion is that kitties love couscous. I also think that would be a great blog name. Feel free to take it! :)
I'm somewhat dissapointed to find out that my flat iron needs a special type of cord that I can't get. It has a circuit board built into it for extra safety but I can't order a new one from the company and I can't pay them to fix an out of warranty iron. My vacuum repairman and I have agreed that we've reached a dead end and I need an new iron. I only have good things to say about the guys at All Brand Vacuum though because they were wonderful sports about trying to fix it in the first place, and they aren't charging me a work fee since they can't repair it. I'll definitely be taking my ancient and lousy vacuum to them again if it needs work in the future!
Does anyone have a suggestion for a good flat iron? It's been 6 years since I've purchased one so I'm not sure if I should get another Chi or if there's something better!

Edited to ad that I ended up stumbling onto an amazing sale at Ulta and got a new Chi for $50. There are still some available for $87. The catch is that they are all in pretty garish colors and patterns. But since I was expecting to spent abut $30 fixing the flat iron, I'm pretty thrilled to get on for $50. Now if only I didn't use that as an excuse to stop at H&M on the way home....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mr. Fix-it

In the past few years, I've started investing the time and money it takes to fix things rather than just to discard and get new stuff. I've always mended my clothes, but a couple of years ago I moved on to having my shoes and purses repaired by a cobbler. (I suggest this cobbler in New Orleans and this one in Portland.) About a year ago, I went to a vacuum repair shop for what turned out to be a new plug for my vacuum. It cost $8- way less than a vacuum! Lesson learned: I try to repair *everything* now. The latest broken item in my house is my beloved flat iron. It's served me well for 6 years of heavy use, but now the part of the cord that swivels at the end isn't staying attached inside the iron, which means that it only turns on and stays hot when I hold it at a very specific angle. I've tried to find a small appliance repair shop in Portland, but there don't seem to be any. I'm unwilling to shell out big bucks for another iron since there are apparently a lot of counterfeits floating around on Amazon and I just didn't want to deal with it. I'm also reluctant to try to fix it myself since I'm not incredibly handy. (Worst. Engineer. Ever.) Finally it occurred to me to call my vacuum repair shop to see if they could try to fix it since a cord is pretty much a cord. They told me that they try to stick to vacuum's but will help out on other small appliances when they can. They went on to say that they've fixed my exact problem on a flat iron before and would only charge $20 (way less than the cost of a new iron) to fix mine. SCORE! I'm going to bring the iron in on Friday and I'll update if things don't go as planned, but I think this will prove to be a smart move. The moral of the story- it never hurts to ask!
This cowlick must be tamed

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Way to Go, Bill Murray!

Just an update on Bill Murray because I'm amazed at his progress. He hasn't given me any more tomatoes but the second little green one is slowly turning red and he has several flowers now. Most of his progress has been in the form of sheer growth! I'm so impressed!
He's a behemoth!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Triumphant Saga of Bill Murray

I might have mentioned before that there are three big planter pots on my porch. If I did mention it, it was probably in same (figurative) breath as the fact that I am am incredibly skilled at killing plants, especially rosemary. Last summer, my planter pots contained strawberries, lavender, and rosemary (because I love it and always want to grow it). I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lavender and strawberries survived the winter, and completely unsurprised when my rosemary failed entirely to thrive past October. That particular pot sat empty save for the corpse of my rosemary plant all winter and Benjy developed the unsavory habit of dumping the ashes from his grill and smoker into the pot. This summer, I decided to plant a patio tomato in the empty pot. I named him Bill Murray because I thought I'd be more interested in keeping him alive if he had a name. I carefully dug out all of Benjy's grill ashes and charcoal and planted Bill Murray in the remaining dirt.
He looked pretty happy for a few days but it soon became clear that something was terribly wrong. His leaves started looking withered and scorched and it was clear that poor Bill Murray was close to going the way of the rosemary. Benjy was either feeling guilty about the charcoal or just irritated by the sick tomato plant ruining the beauty of the porch because he kept bugging me to do something about Bill Murray. I thought the poor guy was beyond help but I gave in and went to Walmart to get a bag of dirt. The first thing I learned is that dirt is only sold in giant bags that are entirely too heavy for me to carry up three flights of stairs. The second bit of knowledge I was gifted with is that it's a good idea to ask your husband to carry said bag of dirt upstairs before he sprays himself with dark tanning oil (not even joking) and sits out on his sunny porch. Not only was the bag too heavy for me to carry upstairs, it was nearly too heavy and slippery for me to upend into my pot. Nonetheless I cut a hole in the top corner of the bag and valiantly struggled with it until I managed to maneuver it in place. It was at this point that I discovered the hole I cut in the top of the bag was too small to let the dirt pour out. I finally managed to get the dirt into the pot via a technique I like to call "madly stabbing the bag of dirt with a pair of scissors."
As you can see, dirt ended up everywhere. It was actually fine because I had too much dirt in the pot after everything was said and done and had to carefully carry the extra dirt over to top off my other pots. You can infer from this that I ended up with as much dirt on myself and the porch as I did anywhere else. I also have to add that before I could put new dirt in the pot, I had to get rid of the old dirt. The end of this process found me covertly hauling trash bags full of old charcoal filled dirt down three flights of stairs and into the back yard and dumping it into a corner. I'm pretty sure I looked deranged at best and like I was disposing of a body at worst. All of this work resulted in a sick Bill Murray perched inside a pot filled with shiny new dirt.
He still looked bad the next day so I cut off all of his branches that looked sick so that he could better direct his resources to keeping the rest of himself alive. I didn't take a picture because he looked so pathetic and for a week or two I was still pretty sure that poor Bill Murray wasn't going to make it. I definitely used this as a reason to make Groundhog's Day jokes at parties because I am a scintillating conversationalist (i.e. deluded enough to think that anyone else gives a damn about my patio tomato plant). But finally, he grew fuzzy new leaves and started to perk up. And now, his first tomato is turning red! I'm so proud!
And yes, of course I've named my strawberry plant Steve Martin and my lavender Dan Akroyd. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I'm just back from a nice vacation to D.C. and the Shenandoah Valley, and, of course, my cupboards are bare!   An additional meal planning challenge is that Benjy is working nights this week. The nice thing is that he doesn't go to work until after dinner, but he has to sleep all day in the bedroom that is just off of the kitchen. I need to minimize my time in the kitchen and cook as quietly as possible. This means I need recipes that don't require a lot of chopping or stirring or standing at the stove.
There are other considerations that go hand in hand with the night shift as well. He often takes some of the food from dinner with him to work- so grab and go type foods are key. It's also convenient to make foods that don't have to be reheated, since that saves time. And since he's going straight to work, garlicky foods are out! (I made roasted squid dressed with chimichurri sauce last week and he couldn't eat it because it would have given him dragon breath on the night shift. It was sad!)
The plus side is that aiming to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible (something that is generally anathema to me!) gives me a chance to play with some easy recipes!
My plan for the week is to make a ton of baked chicken  (just to shake things up from my typical whole roast  chicken routine) and serve it over the rest of the week with a variety of salads. I'm thinking Caprese or maybe a Burrata and tomato salad, roasted beets and goat cheese with spinach and walnut, and salad greens with avocado and hearts of palm.
When out of chicken I'm going to make an Italian tuna salad with tuna canned in olive oil, capers, basil, red onion, white wine vinegar, and white beans to serve over salad greens.
I'm also planning to make this truffled asparagus and boiled egg salad for myself for lunches because I think it looks insanely good.
Everything will be served with slices of crusty bread, although I may buy it instead of making it myself this week.

This sort of food would also work well for anyone having a busy week. I hope you can see how one night spent roasting chicken and beets (or any veggies you like!), and boiling asparagus and eggs can easy lend itself to a full week of healthy meals when you combine them with salad ingredients and a few pantry staples.

How do you cook around a crazy schedule?

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I watched the Kentucky Derby for the first time yesterday (on TV, not in person, sadly). Prior to the race the camera briefly showed a brown horse with a white spot on his nose and I told Benjy that he was my favorite because he was a pretty horse. Finding out that his name was "I'll Have Another" led me to believe I'd made a good choice.
And then he won!! I guess if this whole engineering thing doesn't pan out I can always make a living betting on horse races. ;)

However, apparently the Derby took a deadly turn this year.  This morning I also read an article about an abandoned pet cemetery in rural Louisiana that  is the center of several murders. I guess it's been a good news day for all things Creepy and Southern.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seriously Want to Go Shopping

Things I need to buy: a new camera. Still. I think I want this one, but I kind of hate gadget shopping. I'm such a bad engineer.
What I want are clothes, shoes, and bags. Disclaimer- I totally bought a pair of neon pink shorts and a pair of cobalt blue pants from Jcrew last week. They are fabulous. Especially the neon shorts.
However, this has only whetted my appetite.
Things I want- dark wash sexy bootcut jeans from the Gap, a pair of Toms (b/c now that they've been around for years, I can finally embrace the trend), a maxi dress, and  a couple of slouchy bags- I want a grey one to replace the one I bought last year and have completely destroyed with overuse, and a buff colored one for the summer b/c I think it would play nicely against my awesome neon pink shorts. :)

What do you plan to wear this summer?

Edited to add that I bought the camera and the dress online, and after some soul searching I've decided that I just don't need the Toms- I have a lot of cute flats already, so there's not a Toms shaped void in my life, or my closet. After some closet searching I realized that I have a tan hobo bag that I can totally use this summer- I just forgot it was back there! As for the jeans and the grey bag- the jury is still out. I really love my current grey bag and might see if I can get a tailor to fix it. And I think I should try the jeans on again before I decide to buy them, but I HATE going to the mall so I may just never bother. :) 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's a Tough Life

I've been really pleased with how much travelling I've managed to accomplish in the past year. Places I've been: New Orleans, Mississippi, Houston, Spain, Virginia, several places in Maine (I won't count the stops on the move up to Maine!), Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, San Francisco and Napa, Boston, D.C., and NYC. Do I qualify for road warrior status yet? :)  The picture to the left is from my recent trip to San Francisco. My Kristi, Lauri, and I are completely blocking a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. :)
I'm incredibly grateful that I've been able to travel so much this year. I'm further grateful that I actually love to travel- it's something that came to me late in life. I used to be terrified of flying and pretty unadventurous in general. One thing I appreciate about growing older is that I've become so much more open to new experiences. Some of that is due to an increase in confidence, and some of that is due to a better ability to separate needless fears from legitimate concerns. But so much of the credit for my evolution into a travel loving person is due to Benjy. I was always the type of person to sit around and think "It would be fun to go to XYZ..." but would never go without someone to give me a push in that direction. Benjy loves to travel and was just the person I needed to give me that push. He's also incredibly fun to travel with- his companionship makes the trips we go on together a joy and has helped me establish enough positive connotations to combat any fear I have of traveling alone.
Just one of the many reasons I am so supremely lucky. :)
The picture of us below was taken in Arizona at Christmas. Most of our recent pictures together were taken at arm's length- I thought this one was a bit nicer. :) 

In other news, after 4 or 5 long years, my trusty point and shoot Cannon has bitten the dust. Can anyone recommend a nice compact camera? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What a Year!

So it's two days late, but I'd be remiss if I didn't blog about my first anniversary! Actually, I'm kind of remiss anyway b/c I was out of town for Benjy's birthday (for work) and our anniversary (I was on a girl's trip in San Francisco and there were no affordable flights that got me home by Monday). Whoops.
Nonetheless, I'm very excited to have been married for a full year and I'm looking forward to spending Sat. with my husband in a lovely bed and breakfast in Camden, Maine. We're also going to eat at Conte 1894. I'm very excited about that as well.
This has definitely been an exciting and challenging year for us. We honeymooned in Spain, moved 1600 miles away from our home in New Orleans, climbed a mountain together, skied down several mountains together, weathered our first New England winter, celebrated my birthday in NYC and his birthday in an Irish Bar at 8am on St. Patrick's Day, visited Acadia National Park, met friends in Boston, celebrated Christmas in Arizona, skied in Colorado, and returned briefly to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It's been a big, busy, fun  year and there's no one I'd rather have spent it with!
Adjusting to the big move and to the Benjy's tough work schedule was the biggest challenge of the year. I have to give him so much credit for being willing to spend his spare time with me- traveling and exploring- instead of resting on the couch, which is probably what I would do if I were in his shoes. Despite all the challenges of his work, he's been, as always, a wonderful companion in this adventure. I'm so happy to have been married to the love of my life for a full year and can't wait to celebrate with him for many years to come!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

23.5 hours

I'm seriously loving this youtube video! Check it out, then go take a walk!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Every Day

Speaking of going to the grocery store every day, I did my full week's worth of shopping last night, then got home and realized I'd completely forgotten that I was almost out of olive oil. I was quickly reminded when I ran out of it while cooking dinner. Total first world problem, but now I have to go back to the store! Arg!
I had a really nice weekend- I went skiing at Saddleback, a mountain about 3 hours Northeast of Portland and stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast, the North Country Inn. I highly recommend both the mountain and the B&B. Saddleback had great snow and a lot of fun runs. It also has a lot of black and double black runs with plenty of glades- I can't vouch for the quality of such runs b/c I can't ski down them, but everyone else I was with really enjoyed them. :)
After a weekend of ski food (aka burgers, grilled cheese, and pasta) I wanted to make dinner as green as possible. I opted for Mark Bittman's shrimp with green sauce (mostly parsley and garlic) with some sauteed asparagus stirred in. Unfortunately, it was just ok. The hubby liked it more than I did- I thought it was a little bitter. I'm not sure if it was just that the sauce and the asparagus didn't mix well or if the sauce was out of balance or what. Part of the problem is that the shrimp in Maine are just not that good. I think I may redo this in the future with fish instead of shrimp and maybe with basil as the green component of the sauce.
Of course I've got plenty of ideas for meals for the rest of the week. Up next are chicken tinga tacos. After that I'm planning to modify this tomato, onion, and white bean roast (which is one of my favorites) to include artichoke and asparagus b/c I'm in the mood for lots and lots of veggies. (Hopefully the asparagus doesn't betray me again!) Other meals for the week will be blue cheese buffalo chicken burgers (not the lightest preparation, but I want to do something fun with my leftover ground chicken from last week- basically I'm going to mix blue cheese crumbles, green onions, and some wing sauce into my chicken, then cook it.), a garbanzo bean quinoa bowl with the awesome dressing from my lentil barley bowls, and a quinoa bowl with kale and mushroom gravy. The latter will likely be for lunch since the hubby doesn't share my love of mushrooms.

Anyone making anything tasty this week?

Monday, February 27, 2012


Things I have learned- I cannot poach fish to save my life. My mom bought me a cool fish poacher thingy for Christmas. Sadly, it did not come with instructions and I used it to absolutely ruin a salmon filet last week. So, anyone want a slightly used fish poacher?

This week I'm planning to eat the leftovers from Saturday's party for lunches, and make some barley risotto (with walnuts, orange, and arugula) after that.
Dinner entrees this week will be chicken meatballs with spaghetti squash (I'm psyched to use the meat grinder attachment on my mixer!), Anaheim shrimp, garbanzo burgers, and probably some more coconut-oil sauteed cod- this time with capers and tomatoes.
Last night I enjoyed a lovely departure from health food- a fried oyster and shrimp poboy at Poboy's and Pickles. It warms my heart that I've found an excellent poboy joint in Portland. It's the perfect cure for homesickness!

Do you meal plan or just wing it for your weekly meals? If I didn't plan my meals in advance I'd end up stopping by the grocery store every day- and wasting tons of food and money.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yesterday, my plans for the evening solidified into hosting a get together for a dozen people about 3 hours before people would be arriving. Of course, the house was a wreck and there was almost nothing in the fridge. I knew that since it was fairly nice outside, the hubby would want to grill out, but that it was cold enough that we couldn't have an entire party on the porch.
In a moment of brilliance, I came up with the perfect food theme: Taco Night! I quickly ran to the store for charcoal, fish, chicken, and various taco toppings (tomatoes, cheese, onion, etc...). When I got home, I marinated the chicken in some salsa, marinated the fish in olive oil and lime juice, and chopped up my toppings. I also made a quick batch of cabbage slaw and a fruit salad with chopped strawberries, pineapple, lime juice and honey. I spent the next two hours *quickly* cleaning my house (while listening to the Shakira Pandora station to be festive) then put a pot of black beans on the stove right before people came over.
Set up was a breeze- I put chips and salsa in the front room for people to much while the hubby grilled, then just set out bowls of taco toppers, microwaved some tortillas, and let everyone assemble their dinner once we brought in the chicken and fish.
It was super easy and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think a variation on this theme that would work equally well would be to do a baked potato party with chili and other toppings.

Do you entertain on a whim or prefer time to plan?

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Just a quick post to say that my eating plan is going very well this week. I'd forgotten how good Green Monsters taste! I'm currently mixing about 2 cups of fresh spinach, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, half a banana, 5 strawberries, and 2/3 cup of almond milk in mine (for a total of about 200 calories if anyone is keeping score at home). So good!
Dinners so far have also been awesome. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed the Lentil Bowls. I don't typically cook vegan dishes, but this has encouraged me to branch out and try more because I loved this. (I also didn't get any complaints from the hubby.) I think the key ingredient was nutritional yeast, which was the ingredient that initially put me off of making this dish. I loved its savory flavor (it's the closest thing you can get to vegan cheese) and it's nutritional statistics. 7 grams of protein, 60 calories, and 70% of your daily B12 needs in 2T!
My cod and Brussels sprouts cooked in coconut oil were also excellent. The coconut flavor didn't really come through after cooking, but the sprouts browned nicely and the cod was very tender and flaky. I topped it with sort of a thai chili sauce, but I want to make this again and try different sauces because I think this technique is very versatile. Basically I halved the sprouts and cooked them in virgin coconut oil over medium high heat face down until they were a little brown (8 min.) then stirred them up and cooked them, stirring occasionally for another 2 or 3 minutes.
For the cod, I cooked them in virgin coconut oil for 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other until they were nice and flaky.
In terms of the sauce, I just simmered about 1/4 cup of light coconut oil with sriracha, and ginger and basil from a squeeze bottle until it thickened up a little, then spooned it over the fish and sprouts.

Eat anything exciting this week?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all! I'm back from my dual skiing/New Orleans vacation and while I had an absolute blast, I have to say that I am ready for Lent! I typically don't give up anything for Lent, but I find that around this time of year I always feel ready to take a step back and live more calmly and healthily for a while. When I lived in New Orleans, a big part of this was due to my wanting to recover from the madness that is the Mardi Gras season, but in general, I find that I tend to live and eat a little decadently in the fall and winter (hello, holidays!), and by late winter/early spring, I'm ready to clean things up a bit. In the past I was at least running a good bit, but since I hurt my knee in October and have mostly traded in my running shoes for a yoga mat, I haven't been burning as many calories as I normally do.
So let's just say that after several food and fun filled months, it's time clean up my eats, hit the gym a little harder, and recommit to my healthy lifestyle. Of course, that doesn't mean that I won't be having fun as well! I love a chance to try new workouts and new healthy recipes. I also find that my cravings tend to even themselves out. Right now, I'm absolutely craving fresh fruits and veggies. Conversely, if I don't allow myself treats along the way, decadent food is all I can think about. It's all about balance!
I thought I'd share my plan in case anyone is interested. I like to take things a week at a time in terms of meal and exercise planning (and this is a short week since I just got back into town), but in general I'm going to be focusing on eating way more veggies, as little processed carbs and sugar as possible, lean proteins and healthy fats. I'm also going to try to work out five times each week. I'm also not going to be drinking wine on weekdays. (I think that wine in moderation is a healthy thing to enjoy, but it's also a source of calories that don't make me feel full, so it's just water, coffee, and tea for me for a little while.)
For the rest of the week, I'm planning to eat Green Monsters for breakfast. I know a spinach and banana smoothie sounds bizarre, but it tastes really good. Even more importantly, it makes me feel wonderful!
Lunch this week will either be leftovers from dinner, or a variation on this santiago salsa. Basically I'm going to make a big batch of this using more veggies (I love to add green onion and red bell pepper to this), brown rice, and little to no cheese. I'm thinking about trying it with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top, and if I don't like that, I'll melt a little cheese on top when I heat it up instead of baking cheese into it initially.
Dinners for the next few days will be Lentil Bowls, poached salmon with broccoli, Cod cooked in coconut oil with coconut chili sauce (based very loosely on this idea, but with a drizzle of sauce and some chopped cilantro on top) and Brussels sprouts, and baked chicken with kale and barley (all piled up in a bowl and topped with lemon juice, olive oil, and Parmesan). I'm excited to be cooking fish this week b/c I really don't take advantage of the wonderful seafood in Maine as often as I should, especially since fish is such a healthy source of protein.
Potential snacks/treats for the week are overnight oats, protein balls, eggs with salsa, popcorn, chia pudding, and meringues (since I have a freezer full and I've calculated that each of my meringues contains at most 30 calories).
I think I'm going to make the lentil bowls tonight b/c I've been wanting to try that recipe for quite some time. I'm going to have to put the dressing on the side though b/c while I LOVE lemon, the hubby is generally not a fan. I might make some humbeque (hummus + bbq sauce) for him to add to his bowl.

What are your favorite healthy recipes and workouts?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ski Bunny

Even though we've been having a freakishly mild winter (or so I'm told), I've still managed to ski 4 times this year- twice at Sunday River and twice at Shawnee Peak. It helps that my awesome husband used my birthday and Christmas to give me my own skis and ski boots- I have a very good incentive to tag along whenever people I know are going skiing!
Next week, we're going to Beaver Creek, Co to ski for a few days with my inlaws. After that, we're heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. So basically, best two part vacation ever. :)
I'm at a somewhat frustrating stage with my skiing this winter. I'm good enough to tackle blue slopes and some blacks, and I'm good enough not to fall down very often. The problem is that I'm proceeding with an abundance of caution and going pretty slowly. I feel bad when I'm the last person down to the lift and people have to wait on me; and while I enjoy skiing the way I am now, I'd like to get better and faster. It's hard to push myself though because pushing myself and risking falling down a lot is kind of scary. I did pretty well this Sunday at Shawnee Peak (it's a pretty small and uncrowded mountain, so less intimidating overall) and my friends commented that I'm getting much faster. Hopefully I can take what I've been doing and translate that to my skiing in Colorado, even though I think Beaver Creek will be much bigger and tougher. Regardless, I'm excited to go!

As a reward for reading while I agonize over skiing (what a first world problem!), here's a picture of the hubby's magnificent winter beard the last time we skied together. I really want to steal his Nordic sweater.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Man's Best Friend

One of the fire alarms in my house started it's low battery beep at 3am last night. One high pitched beep every 90 seconds or so isn't necessarily enough to wake me up. However, two very concerned dogs pawing at me definitely is. Hereaux, my rescue dog, was particularly insistent on following me around until I found the source of the beeping and made it stop. I was pretty irritated at the time, but in retrospect, it's nice to know that your dogs will wake you up if for any reason a fire alarm goes off in the night. When I woke up this morning I told them that they were very good dogs! :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Frozen North

It was 8 this morning. Which was actually an improvement from the low of 5 last night. I'm actually kind of excited to say that 8 is by far the lowest temperature I've been exposed to. I'm pretty sure that when I was out and about last night (I had pizza for dinner) and it was 17, that was also, at the time, the lowest temperature I'd been exposed to.
I'm excited about this because all things considered I've been pretty comfortable. It's not like I've dawdled outside or anything, but I think that the winter wear I own is definitely good enough to keep me warm in this kind of weather. In general, the only part of me that's cold is my knees b/c my coat comes down to the top of my knees and I'm unwilling to wear leggings under my pants if I'm going to be mainly indoors b/c I'm worried I'll be too hot.
So as for shoes and clothes, I've been kind of wearing the same few things over and over again, especially at home. My bean boots are my go-to for when I'm going outside, and inside I'm living in my fleece lined mocs. Outside, my long down coat has been perfect (if not a little too warm- I was sweating while taking down the trash and recycling today, but I needed it when I walked the dogs), and inside I've been living in  an Under Armor hoodie and pair of sweatpants that one of the groomsmen from the wedding sent me for Christmas. (The hubby got a similar pair.) He said it was to preserve my marriage because otherwise I'd leave Maine once it got cold. Haha! Of course I may need to buy a second set so I can disagree when the hubby accuses me of wearing the same thing every day. :)
In honor of the cold snap, I have a nice, warming meal planned this evening. It's based on a recipe for pasta with sausage, tomatoes, and mushrooms from Smitten Kitchen (it's the last recipe on the page) but I'm planning to add some chopped carrots and white beans to the mix to make it a bit healthier and to ensure that I'll have plenty of leftover sauce to freeze.

In other news our NYE party went really well. I ended up serving meringues, baked brie, rotel dip, red pepper jelly dip, smoked salmon deviled eggs, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, chicken salad bites, and a chocolate tart with cinnamon and cayenne, a biscoff cookie crust (ganache loosely based on this recipe and crust loosely based on this one), and Kahlua whipped cream.
For drinks we went with Poinsettia cocktails, Moscow Mules, and Sazeracs.

What are you go-to cold weather coping mechanisms?