Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back but Different

Long time, no bloggy.  I apologize for my absence, but life got away from me, and, upon finding myself on the other side of a harsh semester, I took a break from a few things.  A break from blogging, yes, but also a break from carting around heavy books and worrying and getting heartburn over a question about a chemical reaction.  In place of those things, have filled my evenings with cooking for myself and my husband and walking and playing with my dog, and WATCHING THE NEWS which I hadn't done in four months, and painting my nails and wearing sandals. 

We rearranged our living room, and now it's cozy and inviting and comfortable-- in time for locking ourself indoors with the A/C during the hot summer months.  We've had friends over for dinner, met friends to bowl and went to visit my brain sister, cousin and his husband in Chicago.  In short, we've been relishing all those things we put on hold while I poured over periodic tables.

In Chicago, we definitely ate some seriously good food, both in and out.  And we visited new places, full of history, and flowers and nature and we learned things like how vodka is made and that there is an amazing grocery chain out there that we do not have here in Central Texas.  That last one saddens me.  Their store-brand corn salsa is...well, worth weeping over when you cannot find it.  We laughed a lot.  And I have to admit, I always get a little teary eyed when I part from my brain sister, because I do not like the fact that I cannot simply drive to her place any time I want.

But now we're getting back into the groove of things.  And I have pictures of food I've eaten and made recently.  But I also have a new vision for my blog.  While I wasn't writing, I was plotting, my friends.  I was thinking of this space and what I want it to be.  I am going to shift focus a bit to better reflect the food itself, rather than a laundry list of what I ate and how my day at the office was. 

So you can expect entries on new recipes, with lots of pictures and suggestions.  They will still be healthy and delicious and affordable.  But it will hopefully be more focused and accessible and helpful.

I'll be back shortly, but until then, eat well!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crossing Things Off my List

Today has been all about crossing off items on my to-do list as I count down the semester.  Yesterday I had my last lab and reviewed for the Organic chem final.  I also studied for the Anatomy assessment. 

Today, I went to the dentist, ran by the grocery store to restock our fruit supply and pick up a prescription, studied more for the assessment, took it, printed off some lecture notes for my biology class, and now I'm back home, ready to study for the Organic final and go to Biology class tonight.  Whew! 

When times get hectic, I definitely make a to-do list broken down by day.  Today, I've crossed off 3 items and am looking at the simple tasks of "study" and "go to class."  Not bad!  I can handle that.  Tomorrow's Organic final is daunting, but I know I will feel so much better when it's over.  I hope the review last night helped and I'll be studying, going through online tools and working problems to prepare. 

After Organic chem is over, it's all downhill!  I'll have to prepare my folder to turn in for Biology and take the last test over tissues, meiosis and organ systems, but that doesn't scare me.

While studying, I have taken some breaks and found some fun diet-related articles.  After the past few weeks of not eating very healthy (lots of sweets and snacks), I'm looking forward to getting back on track.  Today, I spotted two plans that are reasonable (as in, not a crazy cabbage/grapefruit only diet) and inspiring (as in, I can do this on a regular basis, not just to lose a few pounds quickly). 

Ladies' Home Journal spotlighted this 7-day plan from the nutritionist on The Biggest Loser.  I like that you get your 3 squares a day plus two snacks, usually one sweet and one savory/salty.  I also like that a dessert is built into the dinner meal!  Some of the meals aren't quite for me (there's one for pork tenderloins, and I haven't been eating as much poultry lately), but one can always pick the meals they like and use them more often!  There's nothing wrong with leftovers!  When doing this, just make sure you're still getting all your fruit, veggie, protein and grain servings as I've noticed they change them up a bit (veggies in one breakfast, then fruit as a snack for one day, but the next day, fruit in the breakfast and more veggies in the lunch or dinner).

Eating Well has also comprised not four but FIVE weeks of 500 calorie dinner menus to choose from.  Again, if you have dietary restrictions, you can't use every single one of them, so I recommend browsing them and selecting your favorites to try on more than one occassion.  Eating Well has broken them down by category (i.e., "vegetarian," "fish," soups," etc.) on the bottom right-hand side of the page.  They all end on a sweet note and some even include a glass of wine, which is a dinner menu I can support.  You also might want to pop over to their article on 1,500 calorie day options (choose a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack).  Of course, some people need more than 1500 calories, and frankly, some days you're hungrier than others, so you might need an extra snack or two.

Alright, y'all, back to my studies.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

New breakfast

I tried a new cereal this morning, kashi go lean crisp in berry.

While I like the taste, the texture was stale, as if it had been open in a moist pantry for months. It packs in the fiber, but still has 12 g of sugar. In fact, sugar is the second ingredient. No matter how you slice it, be it corn syrup or natural cane sugar... It's still a sugar. (I'm not endorsing HFCS!!

I would not run out for this stuff and I'll continue to be weary of kashi breakfast cereals. The search continues...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Back in the Saddle

After a week of battling some pesky vertigo, I am back at work, back to studying, back in the saddle.  I definitely ate last week, though not all of it as healthy as I'd like.  I managed to eat veggies and fruit... as well as pizza and cookies.  But I wasn't feeling well and wanted some comfort food.  Now I'm in the home stretch with school... it's finals week!  I can't wait for Thursday evening to roll around so I can be done!

I am so ready for the break this summer.  I need to get my body back!  It's been a semester with little vigorous exercise and eating on the go.  I've gained a few pounds, and worse, I'm totally out of shape.  I'd like to run again.  The problem is the heat is coming, which means running in the evening is hot, hard and can be dangerous!  Perhaps I can work in a morning run a few mornings a week and then on the weekend, along with some toning exercises in the evenings and maybe even some yoga. 

Speaking of toning, this weekend, we spent with family and my parents brought up some old stuff I had left in their house after I flew the nest... including an ab slider!  It's one of those contraptions that has handles and a wheel and you glide out and in on the floor, holding your balance and working your abs.  Kendall and I each tried it out a little, and we started to feel the burn.  I'll let you know how that goes!

In the summer, Kendall and I try to walk in the evenings, but we've noticed that even the 90* weather here is hard on Maple.  Her breed has a shorter snout and therefore cannot take the heat due to respiratory issues, so we have to be careful.  I'm sure we'll figure something out.

Summer heat also means a no-cook kitchen.  When it gets really hot, turning on the stove in the evening is a big no-no.  Not only does it heat up the room, which feels miserable, it also fights against our A/C, which works very, very hard in the summer.  Not so eco-friendly.  To top it off, how much warm food do you want to eat when it's 100*+ outside?  Summer means lots of quick salads, slaws, chilled soups and sandwiches.  Couscous becomes a bit of a godsend because I can warm up the water in the microwave and then pour it over the grain, letting it sit for five minutes before serving, usually with room-temp or chilled beans and veggies.  So I'm on the hunt for some great no-cook, meatless foods to have this summer.

Lots of studying and work to do.  I have photos from a fabulous BBQ this weekend... will post later!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Classic Breakfast Tacos

Here in Texas, there are three things we don't joke about: BBQ, beer and breakfast tacos.  And maybe guns, but let's not go there, yes?

Breakfast tacos are the perfect solution for those who love eggs and savory breakfasts with a kick.  They are simple and there are as many variations as your imagine and time allows.  My absolute favorite is potato and egg with salsa, but you will also see eggs mixed with bacon or chorizo, as well as bean and cheese.  All are great, but today, I made another classic version: egg and cheese.

Egg and cheese tacos are warm, salty and have a great combonation of the softness of egg and cheese and the crispness of the tortilla.

To make, you will need: flour tortillas, eggs, milk (optional), cheese of your choice, salt and pepper, butter, the salsa you desire.

First, whisk your eggs with a dash of salt and pepper.  You can also add a splash of milk here to add some fluffiness to your eggs.  Really whisk.

Then heat a bit of butter in a pan, and add your egg mix.

Let this firm up at the bottom until white (as picture above in a dim-lit manner).

Then take a spatula, and scramble.

Once done, take the eggs out and add a little more butter to the same pan.  Just a little teency, weensy little bit.

That's more like it!  Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Now slap a tortilla on there!

Now, listen.  This next thing I'm about to reveal to you is a life skill.  This is so much bigger than breakfast tacos, if you can imagine.  When browning tortillas, please please please let it bubble like shown above in the lower center.  You want it to puff.  Do not squish.  Let it do this for a few seconds, and then... flip!

Presto!  A beautiful, golden flaky tortilla!  You can then use these for whatever your little heart desires... breakfast tacos, other types of tacos, slathered with beans and cheese and salad and guac and sour cream and salsa for a little tostada, slathered with just guac and rolled up and eaten with your eyes closed and you enjoy the smoothness and crunch and flakiness and nuttiness...  But I digress.  This tortilla is for the tacos.  So repeat this for your number of tacos.  I made two.  Put your tortillas in the skillet side-by-side, like little twin sisters.

Awww.... true love.  Now, spoon the eggs on top.

And add your favorite cheese.  Here, I used some sliced colby jack.  But please, feel free to use monterry jack with the little peppers in it, or mozzarella, or queso fresco...

Let this sit in the pan and get a bit melty.  Then fold in half.

Those are some lovely, fat tacos.    They're ready to plate!  Once plated, and if this fat, you might want to press them a bit with the back of the spatula.

Go ahead and spoon a little salsa on top.

Enjoy this hearty treat with some fresh fruit, juice and coffee or tea.

Sit and ponder why you don't make these every morning.  Ponder why my glass is frosty in this picture.  Okay okay, I'll tell you!  The juice was just out the pantry, so I poured it early and stuck the whole glass in the freezer to cool while I cooked.  It was plenty cold and refreshing when I sat down to dig in.  Cute trick, no?  Not really a trick, but humor me.

If I would do this all over again, I would...
-add potatoes, because those are my favorite.
-use some fresh cilantro from the fridge, for the love of pete.
-make a fruit salad with mango, watermelon and maybe some berries, since I have most of that in my fridge.

But somedays are lazier than others, so it was no potatoes, no cilantro and no fruit salad.

Yummy Ravioli with Veggies

We're looking at tiling our kitchen floor, which means moving the fridge, which means cleaning out the freezer!  I had some frozen cheese ravioli that I needed to use up, so I whipped up a quick and easy meal.

For the pasta: Frozen ravioli, zucchini, garlic, tomato sauce, oilive oil, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
For the salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Saute the zucchini and garlic in some olive oil.

Put the ravioli in some boiling water.

Put the tomato sauce in the pan with the zucchini and garlic.  Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and put it in the pan with the sauce and zucchini.

Toss the lettuce, tomato, and cucumber with the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

This meal takes about 25-30 min and is delicious!  Pasta is so comforting and warm, and the salad is so fresh.  It's a classic pairing.