Fry it Up

MyFitnessPal has been calling to me today.

And I haven’t answered. Not to input my water intake, not to gauge calories burned during exercise, and not to list any of the food I ate.

I think tracking calories can be a fantastic tool for trying to lose or maintain weight,  but it is definitely easy to get addicted to the number game. That’s why I’m taking a step back for a week to see where I end up. I don’t want to be consumed by numbers or calories–far from it!

 

In fact, I think I need to jazz up my own scale to remind myself that the number I see is not as important as the number of friends I have, the number of true loves in my life, or the amount of happiness I know I can attain.

Of course, that means I had no idea how many calories were in the Thai Tofu Peanut Stir Fry I made tonight. I didn’t care. It was divine.

I used the same recipe I concocted last time with a few different veggies.

Broccoli, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, and mini sweet peppers.

Sauteed over medium high heat in olive oil for about 10 minutes.

I moved a block of tofu from the freezer to the fridge last night in preparation for tonight’s stir fry.

Dried, cubed, and sauteed in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Then I made the same kick-ass Thai peanut sauce I made last time. This is the best stir fry sauce I’ve ever had, so I’m pretty proud that I made it myself.

  • 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of ginger
  • dash of red pepper flakes

Along with having the foresight to thaw my tofu last night, I also had the foresight to make a batch of brown rice this morning. I hate waiting for rice to cook when I’m hungry, so I was really glad it was ready and waiting for me at home. After the 10 minutes of prepping and 10 minutes of cooking, dinner was ready in a flash!

Topped with more red pepper flakes and a handful of peanuts. I savored every last bite.

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Seafood Cioppino

Although I am a self-professed creature of the heat, I do enjoy the occasional cool and rainy summer day. After all, it is only on these days that you can enjoy some of the (few) luxuries of winter without copious amounts of shoveling, wet socks, or a frostbitten nose. Luxuries like:

Cup after cup of hot loose leaf tea.

A warm and relaxing bubble bath.

Lounging inside with a good book.

And enjoying a steaming bowl of soup.

In hopes of using the seafood medley that has been in our freezer for several months, I looked up recipes online and settled on Seafood Cioppino. Cioppino is a fish stew of Italian-American origin made by combining the catch of the day with wine and tomatoes and serving it alongside toasted bread.

Woodman’s ‘Catch of the Day’ happened to be a mixture of shrimp, squid, clams, and mussels.

I will admit that, though I love seafood, the sight of tentacles kind of freaks me out. Animals shouldn’t have suction cups.

Seafood Cioppino

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 oz seafood medley, thawed
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 mini sweet peppers, sliced
  • 8 oz red wine
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, salt, and pepper
Adapated from: Seafood Cioppino

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute about two minutes.

Add the seafood.

Followed by the onions, peppers, and celery.

Cover and let steam cook for about 7-8 minutes.

Add wine and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.

Add spices to taste and let simmer a bit longer for the flavors to merry.

Serve with crusty bread for dipping. If you have an aversion to tentacles, close your eyes while eating. It helps, I promise.

Feeling Green

I was not feeling the greatest when I woke up this morning. I couldn’t blame it on what I ate for dinner last night, because it was pretty standard.

Roasted veggies (broccoli, zucchini, sweet pepper, and potatoes) and a Black Bean Chipotle Gardenburger. I finally cracked open my Pickled Vegetables, which were quite tasty after marinating in the fridge for several weeks. I was especially digging the piece of cauliflower I snagged off the top before adding two pickled cucumbers to my plate.

Perhaps my body is revolting against my incessant late night snacking, so maybe it was the bowl of trail mix I had before bed. Hmph. Must. Stop. Snacking. I’ll take it one day at a time, starting with today.

Anyway, after a shot of Pepto this morning, I was determined to go on my planned run, armed (or footed) with the new socks I bought at Target to stave off ankle blisters.

They worked like a charm.

Apparently I’m not the only one who loves short socks but gets blisters from her shoes.

Given the cool day and ample laundered workout clothes, I was finally able to wear my capris with the sweet back pocket for a nano ipod.

It was great not running with my ipod in my hand or shoved inside my sports bra this morning. Especially good because I forgot to use sunscreen on Sunday, and my chest is still painful from the burn. Stupid.

I got overly excited with buying yogurt last week–with a fridge full of noosa blueberry, plain Fage, Chobani Very Berry, Chobani Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, and whipped chocolate mousse, I definitely needed to incorporate some into my breakfast this morning.

I’m not sure what’s up with this Chobani Very Berry, but it is very runny. Not very greek yogurtish at all. Still full of flavor, though, and it worked very well in my smoothie.

Green Monster

  • 1 container Chobani Very Berry
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 ice cubes

I find it amazing that no matter what I throw in my blender, it always just reaches the top of the cup.

It’s just like magic!

 

Snippets from Sunday

1. I cleaned out Dave’s lunch bag yesterday and found this. Black Quinoa Blueberry Pudding, reduced to a sad and lowly state.

At this point, it had been sitting in his lunch bag for approximately 30 hours. Dave said he wasn’t feeling well, so he didn’t eat it. I think he was scared by the caviar-like texture of the quinoa and was afraid to try it. It’s good, I promise! Make it and let me know what you think.

2. I could live in these yoga capris from Kohls.

And if I didn’t have to go to work today, I think I would. They’re comfy, they’re stretchy, and unlike leggings, which make me feel frumpy, these make me feel curvalicious. They make everyone look good! Buy some.

3. I have been drinking a lot more coffee than usual. Iced.

No cream or sugar required, but the coffee is always flavored. My favorite thus far is Amaretto, but Coconut Creme is a close second.

4. I’m going to a Mad Men themed birthday party tonight for my friend Nicole. Happy Birthday, Nicole! 🙂 (It was actually a few days ago).

I’m excited. Music, cocktails, snacks, and clothing from the 60s…here I come. You will definitely see pictures later.

I have already rummaged through my closet for a plaid dress, pearls, and a white headband. I’m not dressing as anyone in particular, because while I would give my right pinky finger to look like Christina Hendrickson, I simply don’t.

5. I made healthy brownies.

As healthy as you can make a baked good with chocolate and sifted powdered sugar on top.

No-Pudge Brownie Clones (16 servings)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup stevia
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup & 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 containers Chobani Honey Nana yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond coconut milk
  • powdered sugar for topping

Mix all dry ingredients. Stir in yogurt and milk. Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray and spread batter evenly (the batter will be very thick). Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool and sift powdered sugar over the top.

Note: this recipe was based on a No Pudge Brownie Clone recipe, but I had to improvise. If you want a simpler recipe, follow that one!

I calculated my brownies to have 110 calories per serving (which is 1/16 of the pan and a fairly sizeable brownie).

****

I made these brownies for the chocolate-loving birthday girl, but since she would kill me if I gave her an entire pan of brownies, I tested them out.

Yup, I would eat that. In fact, I already did. They are more cakey than fudgy, and for a quick chocolate fix, they are quite satisfying.

6. I’m supposed to march in a Memorial Day parade tomorrow to advertise for our upcoming Renaissance Faire. The last time I was in a parade, I was about eleven and wore a purple & gold skirt and tunic and whirled a matching flag around. I bet my mom has a photo of that somewhere.

My friend Raleight and I at a Renaissance party in 2006

This time, I will be wearing a ridiculously awesome (and incredibly hot) Renaissance dress my sister Emily made. However, the forecast promises rain and/or thunderstorms, so I’m a little worried. Please be wrong, weatherman! I want a nice parade and cookout with my fam.

7. I only have to work for four hours today.Yippee! One of my charming co-workers was lovely enough to offer to come in for me at 7pm tonight, so I can attend the birthday bash.

Happy Sunday, indeed.

I’ll Be a Baker Yet

I did it.

I finally baked a loaf of bread that I am proud of.

Third time’s a charm.

I only hope Dave will give me a few props as well, particularly because he scoffed at the amount of yeast, length of time, and oven temperature. Sometimes, though, I just like following a recipe.

This is a very slow-rising bread with only four ingredients. Four! You have these in your cupboard. Make this bread. It is a delightfully crusty loaf that will have you imagining you are in France sipping red wine and eating a hunk of cheese.

Easy Crusty Bread

  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups flour (I used half wheat, half all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • extra flour for dusting
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  • The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  • Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  • At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  • Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

*****

I made only a few changes to the recipe I found on motherearthnews.com. Dave knows best….I’m certain if I would have baked the bread as long as the recipe called for (45-50 minutes) at such a high temperature (475), I would have had a burnt and blackened loaf of bread.

I went grocery shopping today (Yay, payday!), spent way too much money (Boo, payday), and when I came home, I sliced off a nice hunk of bread to try. It may need a bit extra flavor next time, but the texture was almost like a ciabatta. I’m glad I finally made a loaf of bread I could buy from a bakery!

After I put the groceries away, I made and separated a giant bowl of homemade trail mix into snack bags for next week.

Barbara’s Puffins, mixed nuts, peanuts, goldfish, raisins, craisins, freeze dried strawberries, and mini chocolate gems.

Then I made some Lemon muffins to put in the freezer for Dave’s breakfasts. They will be easy for him to take on the road or eat in the morning if he’s feeling hungry.

I used a Lemon Poppyseed muffin recipe from Joy the Baker. My only adaptation was to split the mix in half right before adding the poppyseeds. Then, I added a tbsp of poppyseeds to one half of the mixture and a handful of blueberries and chopped walnuts to the other half for a little variety. After they cool, I’ll pop them into the freezer.

Since Dave won’t be home for at least an hour yet, I’m going to do Bob Harper’s yoga ab workout and a few push-ups before prepping dinner. Grillin’ tonight!

 

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

I know where the runners live.

They live just before the sun splits the trees and falls down hot and bright on the ground, just about the time the Lost Boys are crawling out of of their hammocks.

They live where you can still catch a scent of fall in the air from the dew melting off leaves. Where the earth is quiet and you can get drunk off the beauty of the morning.

I know where the runners live, because I was there this morning.

I asked for oomph yesterday, and it slipped into my bedroom this morning, blowing open the curtains and opening my eyes at 7:00am. For the record, I don’t even wake up for work at 7:00am. But this morning, there was no part of me that felt like continuing my slumber, which is odd for a girl who usually refuses to take less than 8 hours of sleep.

I took it as a sign that I was not supposed to do my planned P90X Core Synergistics this morning but rather continue my running spree. And everything fell into place.

IPod playlist? Made and synced.

  1. What’s Left of the Flag–Flogging Molly
  2. Song 2–Blur
  3. Ready to Run–Dixie Chicks
  4. Don’t Stop Believin’–Journey
  5. Bad Moon Rising–Creedence Clearwater Revival
  6. Jet Plane–Me First and the Gimmie Gimmie Gimmies
  7. Just Like Heaven–The Cure
  8. Harder to Breathe–Maroon 5
  9. Take Me Out–Franz Ferdinand
  10. Here it Goes Again–Ok Go
  11. Tainted Love–Me First and the Gimmie Gimmie Gimmies
  12. Sin Wagon–Dixie Chicks
  13. Punk Rock Jock–Operation Ivy
  14. Runnin’ Down a Dream–Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  15. Funk Soul Brother–Chemical Brothers
  16. I’ll Be That Girl–Barenaked Ladies
  17. The Distance–Cake

Burt? Applied. Water? Drunk. Running attire? Clean and cool.

Blister? Bandaged.

I did have a real band-aid on it, but I sweated it off halfway through. I was so drunk on life at that point that I didn’t care, but I was getting blood on my shoe, which I did care about. After briefly thinking “What Would Tim Do?” I snagged a few leaves and jammed them in my sock.

Mischief? Managed.

I can’t even tell you how happy I felt this morning. As someone who suffers from mild depression and seasonal affective disorder, I am here to say that all that stuff about exercise making you happier is true. I know summer has a part to play in boosting my mood, too, but I definitely think I can attribute part of my new attitude to sweating out all the bad parts of my day and reveling in what’s left over: the good stuff.

Even though my left knee was twinging a bit, I had a stupid-happy grin on my face the entire time and said “Hello!” or “Good Morning” to every runner I passed. And to make up for my lack of oomph yesterday morning, I pounded out 1.3 miles before stopping to walk.

When I got back home, I had breakfast cold and waiting in the fridge, having prepared it last night.

Black Quinoa Blueberry Pudding (serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup dry black quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup blueberries

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add quinoa

Isn’t it gorgeous?

and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).

While it cooks, prepare the base of the pudding. In a medium saucepan, heat almond milk over medium high heat. Add honey, and stir until melted.

Bring the milk mixture to a simmer, add cooked quinoa, and stir to combine. Continue to stir over medium high heat for a few minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken.

After a few minutes, mix in the blueberries, and remove from heat.

Transfer to a shallow bowl and refrigerate for several hours until thickened.

Inspired by: Black Quinoa Blueberry Pudding at dailygarnish.com.

*****

I kept mine in the refrigerator overnight and dished it up this morning.

It was…..strange. Chewy. Nutty. Coconutty. Bluberry-y.

I liked it.

To Market, To Market

Dave had to head to Appleton this afternoon to take an HRA for work, and I decided to tag along. Partly for moral support but mostly because one of my favorite stores, World Market, lives in Appleton. 🙂

My favorite section, of course, is the food section. I love weird and unique foods, and I can spend an hour just traipsing up and down the aisles in the back of the store where canned spotted dick, sesame snaps, ginger chews, and hilarious food descriptions abound. Take this gem for instance, a milky Sake.

It reads “This alcohol is Japanese white sake. This is the one to have filled a bottle with by sterilizing heat without wringing the sake that maturity was fermented. Please save in the refrigeration and avoid the direct sunlight. In Japan, a drunkard is called a ‘tiger.’ A white tiger wearing a Japanese head band is saying thank you, thank you and is cheering up.”

Something was definitely lost in translation, and I am so glad it was. Instead of lushes, I will start calling my friends ‘tigers.’

We ended up with a $4.00 bottle of olive oil, a jar of garlic stuffed olives (perfect for martinis…mmm), a huge container of sourdough pretzels, and these, which I snacked on in the car:

Roasted coconut chips. Definitely going to be crumbled over some future banana soft serve.

And Wasabi Soy Almonds. Not spicy at all considering they are wasabi flavored, but still delicious. Driving through Appleton made me want to move there all the more–I’m ready for a change! I like Green Bay a lot, but I could use a change of scenery.

When we returned home, we took care of a few household chores and, given the sad state of our coffers, Dave ran to the store for dinner. I asked him to bring me back another delicious Caprese salad.

Seriously a steal at $3.99. Drizzled with a bit of Newman’s Own Light Sundried Tomato Basil Dressing, it was a perfect summer dinner. We shared the remnants of the Amaretto Cherry gelato and made plans to buy more asap.

A freezer without gelato isn’t a freezer at all.

Whirlwind of a Day

It was a breeze getting to the airport in Appleton. It was so small that not even a person as terrible as directions as I am could get lost. My sister Emily and Aurelia drove with me for company, and we got to the airport half an hour before Jake’s arrival time. We headed to the airport cafe and ordered the cheapest nosh available: coffee for Em, iced tea for me, and a Cranberry Orange muffin to share.

Total cost: 9 ish dollars. (The muffin was $3). It was pretty tasty for airport food.

This was the first time Jake was going to see Aurelia–the last time we saw him was at my wedding in October 2010!

Not even Jake could resist her charms.

Babies really bring people together, don’t they? The whole way back Jake kept commenting on her long lashes, pretty blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and soft hair. There’s no doubt about it–she’s a keeper!

We had fun planning out all the fun stuff we’re going to do this summer. I’m ready for a coming home party already, and I’m hoping Jake and my Aunt Colleen will make it up to the cabin with us at the end of June. I’m already counting down the days….the cabin is one of my favorite places in the world.

I brought Jake to his house to drop off his belongings, then back into town to cash a check, pick up some pizza, and finally deliver him to my Grandma’s house where his mom would pick him up later. Grandma was ecstatic to see him (especially because he’s the only one who installs her air conditioner just the way she likes it).

I had two pieces of pizza: one Mediterranean and one Spinach.

I also had a small snack plate with an orange, several grape tomatoes, a few crackers, and a string cheese that was camera shy.

Em and I went to a meeting later in the afternoon to discuss our upcoming Renaissance Faire, which we will be advertising by marching in the Memorial Day Parade next Monday. It’s supposed to be 87 degrees, so I may melt in my Renaissance garbe. Hopefully there will be a nice breeze. 🙂

When I got home, I was hungry again, so I cut up a sweet potato and some brussel sprouts to roast. While they were baking in the oven (425 for 30 minutes), I had a bowl of watermelon…out of my watermelon bowl.

I can’t believe I almost polished off the watermelon without eating it out of this bowl!

Then a bowl of roasted veggies later.

Seasoned with garlic salt and pepper and topped with a little Parmesan. I love roasted veggies.

Dave and I both have off again tomorrow, so another episode of Game of Thrones may be in our future tonight.

Warning: this show is addicting.

Xtreme Dinner

I had to give in to the Xtreme theme today. After all, Xtreme workouts call for Xtreme food.

I was happy to finally use the last one in the package–Operation Clean Out is going quite well. Although I am missing some of my favorite greens.

I used this Tomato Basil tortilla to make a pizza. First sprayed with olive oil, topped with shredded Parmesan, a sliced Boca sausage link, sliced bella mushrooms, chopped sundried tomatoes, and some basil, oregano, marjoram and fennel.

Baked at 400 for 10 minutes until crispy.

Then I got to work on my side dish. It involved the arduous process of unzipping my lunch bag and removing my uneaten vegetable salad. Doesn’t get much easier than that! Work got busy right when I usually go on my lunch break, so I ended up eating a pack of salted peanuts instead.

Sans any lettuce, this vegetable salad contains 4 mini sweet peppers, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, 1/2 oz of feta cheese, and 1 tbsp of Newman’s Light Sundried Tomato Dressing. It’s a great combination of flavors for being something I just threw together.

I tried to upload an ‘all together’ photo, but WordPress is telling me I have used my quota…hmm. Apparently WordPress is not quite as Xtreme as I am.