Monthly Archives: November 2009

I love Ellie Krieger

So good.

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Ellie Krieger’s Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce (from foodnetwork.com)
Serves 6

Ingredients
3/4 pound spinach linguine or whole-wheat spaghetti
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 scallion, cut into pieces
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shelled unsalted peanuts
Directions
Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the pasta is cooking put the broccoli in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water and steam it for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for 2 minutes more.

Toast the peanuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until they become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set them aside to cool. Make the sauce by pureeing the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Right before serving, toss the pasta with 3/4 cup of the peanut sauce. Divide into 6 serving bowls and top each serving with the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the vegetables. Coarsely chop the peanuts, sprinkle them on top and serve.

Of course, since I can’t follow a recipe to save my life, I omitted a bunch of things. First off, I only cooked enough pasta for two servings, but I cut the sauce in half. I like my veggies saucy. I only used one type of pea, I forget which one. I didn’t use the scallion, ginger or unsalted peanuts. I also mixed the sauce with the veggies and pasta together, not just with the noodles. And guess what? It was fabulous.

End of the weekend

How in the world did my 4-day weekend come to an end? Surprisingly, I don’t really feel that bummed about going back to work tomorrow. I think having so much time off, with no real obligations, was good for me. Of course, it helps to know that I’ll have another long weekend in a month. I am going home to Maryland for that one.

The weather could not have been nicer this weekend. It was probably in the upper 50s the entire time. I took the hyper dog to the park on Saturday morning. He had a great time. I took a few pictures while we were there. The best part of the park outing was that Murphy was exhausted for the rest of the day!

The Midtown Atlanta skyline:

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I like the lines in this:

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After we got back, Jason and I went to our favorite salad bar for lunch.

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We hadn’t been in a while and the cashier told us that she missed us! I guess we’re regulars. I just got the cold bar because they didn’t have the soup that I like, so I figured there was no point getting the hot bar too.

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The rest of the day, I pretty much just farted around the house. I didn’t feel like going to the gym, so I did some random On Demand fitness thing. It was 45 minutes of weight lifting. I thought I was going to stay in because most of my friends were out of town and Jason was working, but one of my friends got back into town early so I met her out for a while.

Today was pretty productive, considering I lazed around until noon. After I finally managed to get up, I met a friend and we went to two malls. I ended up getting a sweater for my mother and some stuff for myself. I also had an epiphany about what to get Jason. I found the perfect one online when I got home and a code for free shipping. Score. After the mall, I took Murphy on a 2.5 mile walk, went to the gym and did the elliptical for a half hour and went grocery shopping. Whew. Busy day.

I had been totally craving enchiladas for like a month now, so I took Errign’s advice and used Jenna’s famous chicken enchilada recipe. I added some peppers and used fat-free sour cream instead of light. It turned out wonderfully. Jason is going to be so excited when he gets home from work and there are enchiladas in the fridge. I would like to try this with refried beans instead of chicken; I think that would be good.

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Okay, I take it back about not having the Sunday night blues. I don’t want to get up and go to work tomorrow. Although I will be glad to get back into my normal routine. I am such a creature of routine. My mother says that I have been like that since I was a baby. Having four days off was fun, but I didn’t exactly know what to do with myself and ended up spending WAY too much money. I’m declaring this work week a non-spending week. I have groceries in the house. There is no reason that I need to spend any money until Friday (might go to a concert). Do you think I can do it?

Loud Dog

My dog is being quite the little primadonna this weekend. We have a small backyard. He likes to be outside, I guess because it’s cool. But then he likes to be with us inside. So, he constantly barks to be either let in or out. He really wants me to just leave the door open so he can go as he pleases, or sit in the door frame, but it’s too cold for that. I need a doggie door.

Anyway.

How great is it that it feels like the whole weekend has already passed but it’s only Saturday morning? I so needed this 4-day weekend. Yesterday, between the two of us, we somehow managed to polish off all the leftovers. Since we only had three people for dinner, there weren’t that many though. I mostly spent yesterday afternoon lounging around the house. At around 5:30, we made it over to the gym. I did 3 miles on the treadmill. I ran the first two miles at 6.2mph and then sort of felt sick. So I slowed down to a 3.5mph walk for a quarter mile. After that, I ran the next quarter mile at 6.5mph and then the last half mile at 6.2 again. Got that?

We didn’t really know what to do after the gym. We thought about going ice skating but eventually nixed that idea. Dinner and drinks didn’t sound appealing either. We ended up changing into our pajamas, playing both Outburst and Trivial Pursuit and watching an episode of True Blood that Jason found online. It ended up being a really fun evening. After going out on Wednesday and cooking on Thursday, a low-key evening is what we both needed.

I’m trying to figure out a meal plan for the week. I know that I want enchiladas in there somewhere! Anyone have a good enchilada recipe?

Stop barking, Murphy! He only looks sweet and innocent.

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I sense a dog park visit in our immediate future. This dog needs to get his energy out.

Happy Thanksgiving

Our first year cooking for Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch. We started off with salad.

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Then we had “grilled” corn. Please ignore that disgustingly dirty outdoor table.

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Danny brought stuffing. I think it was Stove Top. That’s okay with me. I heart me some Stove Top stuffing. Always have.

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Green Beans. I used this recipe but used fresh green beans, crushed garlic and not as much parmesan cheese.

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Sweet potato casserole. I used Angela’s recipe for the potatoes, but skipped the topping in favor of marshmallows. This was very good. A tad bit sweet, but my favorite dish of the whole meal.

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And of course, the turkey. Our little turkey breast.

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Obviously, we need a bigger table.

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We had a pumpkin pie for dessert but didn’t eat it! I had more sweet potatoes instead and the boys didn’t eat dessert. After dinner, we sat around and watched The Office Wedding, which I’d seen before but had fun watching again.

Dinner went well, but I’ll have to say I missed being with my family. I have lived in Atlanta for 7.5 years and this is only the second time that I haven’t gone up to MD for Thanksgiving. I was glad that Jason didn’t have to work (until midnight) but I kind of missed the hubbub of a bigger gathering. I felt like I should have been in MD, with Jason, of course. Next year, I suppose. It’s just hard because of his work schedule. He works in an industry that’s open 365 days a year so when most people have nice 3 or 4 day weekends, like this one, he doesn’t. I told him to request off for next Thanksgiving as soon as he’s allowed.

I’m going to eat some pie. How come it’s totally acceptable to eat pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving?

Trivia Buffs

Since I got off work at around 1, Jason and I actually had the entire day to spend together which rarely happens. I took a brief nap and then we drove around looking at houses. I think I know the area that I want to live in and there is one house that we really like. We haven’t gotten very far in the house-hunting process; we’re basically just looking up houses on Georgia MLS for now. I am supposed to call this realtor, who is a friend of a friend, next week though. That $8000 tax credit is really a huge motivator!

After house hunting and Starbucks drinking (which I very rarely do, but I have a gift card), we stopped at Publix to get food for our Thanksgiving dinner. Every time I go to Publix, I always think how it’s so much nicer than Kroger. So, why do I always go to Kroger? Well, really because it’s next door to my house. Okay, I digress. We bought the food and then came home and I spent a good hour trying to get the soap scum off the bathtub. Does anyone know of any magical soap scum removers? While I was scrubbing, Jason cleaned up the living room and vacuumed.

After working up an appetite (scrubbing the bathtub will do that to you), we made it over to The Corner Pub in Decatur. I’d only been here once, but they were having trivia night so we decided to go. The bar was pretty crowded. At first we thought we weren’t going to be able to find a table, but we managed to find room at the bar to sit. The bar was quaint and it had a real hometown feel. Like everybody knew everyone else.

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I had too many glasses of some wine and the vegetable plate. I chose edamame, squash, broccoli and mushrooms. Lots o’ veggies.

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Trivia was fun and we won third place! We were actually in a tie for second and they had a tie-breaker question (that no one would know the answer to, it was the population of some county in Washington state) and the other team guessed a closer answer, so we got third. Still, yay! We met up with some of Jason’s friends for a while and that was fun but we probably overdid ourselves a bit because we’re both dragging this morning. I guess my plate o’ veggies wasn’t the most filling thing because I had an English muffin pizza when I got home.

Off to clean and cook!

The wrong choice?

I was all about choosing the most ethical choice when it came to buying a turkey. Then I forgot what it was. I know, roll your eyes! I went to WF and purchased a turkey breast that says it’s vegetarian fed and has no antibiotics. But it’s grain-fed. Isn’t it supposed to be grass-fed? Or is that just for beef? Perhaps I should have researched this better, but it was getting late and I wanted to buy it before WF closed and didn’t want to go tomorrow. But for next year, what should I be looking for when it comes to poultry? I really don’t eat much of it but want to be smarter in my choices in general.

This is the first year that I’m cooking for Thanksgiving! Jason and I are having our first family dinner along with our friend Danny, who is also staying in town. I haven’t bought anything besides the turkey yet, but I am thinking this should be the menu:

turkey
green beans (recipe suggestions anyone)
Oh She Glows sweet potato casserole except that I’m going to unveganize it and add marshmallows
Danny is bringing stuffing
rolls
dessert

I think it is fine for three people. I just need a good green bean recipe. I don’t want it in casserole form though. Jason is definitely going to be in charge of the turkey because I don’t know the first thing about cooking it. This whole meal should be interesting, that’s for sure.

Went to the gym tonight. Did my non-running workout which is 20 minutes of cardio + NFLFW. I did the stepmill and then a workout. I am still technically on Stage 1, but I am so bored of it that I skipped to Stage 2. This is what I did:

1. squat-press with a barbell, 20 lbs, 2 sets of 10. The book says to use a squat rack. What the hell is a squat rack?
2. i have the book in the car and can’t remember what the second exercise is called. You basically do bent over rows while standing on one leg with the other out so your body looks like a T if that makes any sense. 20 lbs, 2 sets of 10
3. static lunges with back leg elevated, 20 lbs, 2 sets of 10 each leg
4. push ups on a smith bar, approx 45 degree angle, 2 sets of 10
5. plank, 60 seconds, 2 sets
6. woodchop, 30 lbs, 2 sets of 10

Hope everyone is having a nice, short week. We are having a potluck tomorrow at work and hopefully will get to leave after lunch. Woo hoo!

PMS

PMS manifests itself in the exact same way for me each month. I get furious about how messy the house is. It takes me a while to realize that my hormones are running amok and that some dirty dishes in the kitchen are not worth crying about. When this happens, I either want to stuff my face with chocolate and sit on my couch in sweats or go and run it out. Fortunately for my waistline, I chose to run.

I went to the normal-temperature LA Fitness tonight and managed to crank out the five miles that I wanted to do yesterday. It was so-so. Five miles is actually the most that I’ve run since my half, which was nearly a month ago. I’ve been doing a lot of 4 mile runs, but felt like I should step it up a bit. I do feel a bit better, but still on the cranky side.

Liz from In the Skinny gave me the Honest Scrap award. (I think. She tagged me after someone gave her the award so I think that means I got the award too!)

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You have to tell 10 things about yourself and tag 7 people to do the same.

1. I moved to Atlanta for no reason. I didn’t have a job here. I just liked the city and wanted to move.
2. I was an RA in college. I was also on the Women’s Rugby team.
3. One of my most despised foods in the world is Blue Cheese. I hate it. Jason hates it too.
4. When I was a freshman in high school, I weighed 40 pounds more than I do now.
5. I almost went to the University of Pittsburgh. I got wait-listed at UVM and didn’t think I was going to get in. I was enrolled at Pitt and even had a housing assignment. Then I got into UVM.
6. My parents got divorced when I was three. I have no memory of them living together.
7. If I have a picture in front of me, I can draw it pretty well. But ask me to draw from memory (say of a dog) and I can’t at all.
8. I have never been to a tanning salon.
9. I did not wear makeup or carry a purse until I was in my mid 20s.
10. I sometimes take naps during my lunch break.

I’m not so great at the tagging people part. Consider yourself tagged if you want. Cop out!

In need of comfort food

Sunday afternoons are made for napping, right? I hope so because I slept for like three hours on the couch. I guess I needed sleep? It’s been rainy and gloomy all day so it’s not like I was going to spend any time outside anyway. After I woke from my slumber, I got ready for the gym. There are two branches of LA Fitness close to my house in opposite directions. I usually go to the T. one but tonight I went to A. because I wanted to stop at Trader Joe’s and it’s closer to A. Big mistake. It was so f’n hot in there. There was all sorts of condensation on the inside of the windows even. I had intentions of running five miles but after running a mile and half through what felt like a swamp, I called it quits on the treadmill. It didn’t help that I was wearing pants instead of shorts. I told myself that since I’d wanted to run for approximately 50 minutes, if I was going to stop, I had to do 50 minutes of cardio anyway. So I did the stepmill for 20 minutes and then the elliptical for 15. I’m not a big sweater, but I was literally dripping sweat after this workout. I’m going to go to the T. LA Fitness from now on. The treadmills there have fans on them too.

I was kind of expecting TJs to be a madhouse, but it wasn’t crowded at all! They were giving away samples of this sweet potato dish and I decided to buy some to bring to our company potluck on Wednesday. Does your company do a potluck for Thanksgiving? If so, what are you bringing?

The rainy weather definitely had me craving comfort food for dinner. I made a variation of Ellie Krieger’s Macaroni and 4 Cheeses. I basically used ingredients I had in my house instead of most of the ingredients she used.

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Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Mac and 4 Cheese recipe)
Serves 4

Cooking spray
8 oz brown rice elbow macaroni
about 8 oz butternut squash
1 cup skim milk
4 oz Trader Joe’s reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
shake of parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook macaroni according to directions.
2. Microwave cut up squash for about 4 minutes. Puree in food processor.
3. Mix milk and squash over medium heat until mixed together. Remove from heat.
4. Mix 4 cheese blend, salt, mustard and cayenne into squash/milk mixture. Mix with cooked macaroni.
5. Spray pan with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese for the last two minutes.

I thought this was pretty good. It had a bit of a sweeter taste from the squash that I wasn’t sure if I liked. After liberally dousing it with Frank’s, however, it was really good. I think this would be especially good for someone that didn’t like vegetables because you couldn’t really taste the squash, aside from the bit of sweetness.

I have this weird back ache. It started yesterday and it’s like a sore spot on my spine. Or what feels like on my spine. It’s just tender. Has this ever happened to anyone before? I guess I’ll just see if it gets any better.

Playing Photog

Yesterday morning, I took Murphy for a walk and decided to take my camera along. I really want to start taking better pictures. Practice makes perfect, I ‘spose.

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Murph and I walked up to the Morningside Farmer’s market, about a mile and a quarter up the road. I think Murphy had a bit of sensory overload; at one point, while I was trying to take pictures, he jumped up with his front paws onto one of the tables where someone was selling stuff. Oops. Needless to say, we left quite abruptly after that and I didn’t get any good pictures.

After we got home, I made a simple soup. I don’t know where I got this recipe, but basically you mix a cup of broth, 1/2 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of salsa and some cumin. It’s pretty tasty.

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I messed around the house for a little bit (read: took a nap) and then got ready to go to the gym. Murphy pretended to be completely oblivious to the fact that we’d walked 2.5 miles earlier in the day and wanted to go out again. Dog walking is good for the POTM challenge at least. Despite our many walks, I still managed to make it to the gym. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical and then the following:

deadlifts, 40 lbs, 3 sets of 10
lat pull down, 57 lbs, 3 sets of 10 (different lat pulldown machine than last time)
shoulder press, 24 lbs, 3 sets of 10
walking lunges, 24 lbs, 3 sets of 10 each leg
crunches on the ball, 3 sets of 12

I was definitely cutting it close when it came to time and had to rush home to get ready to go to Midtown Bowl for a birthday party. I got some super cool shoes there. For whatever reason, I was the only one with florescent shoes.

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Everyone always makes fun of my bowling technique. The ball goes very, very slowly down the lane. I’m not sure why. It’s not good form at all but it works! I got 102 my first game.

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We played two games and then sort of got sick of it. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

It’s raining this morning once again. This is Murphy’s “I’m sick of the rain” face:

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I decided to do something different for breakfast and made French toast. Well, more like French English muffins. I didn’t have any bread, but had some Rudy’s spelt English muffins. It actually turned out quite well. They took on an almost pancake consistency. I topped them with Chobani 0% plain yogurt (my second favorite flavor so far), pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of Almond Butter. So good. I need to step away from the egg sandwich more often.

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Date night and yogurt winner

Jason and I have been feeling like we haven’t seen each other in a while. His work schedule has been all over the place and a lot of times, I’m already asleep when he gets home. We decided a date night was definitely in order. We had two restaurant.com gift certificates in the house. One was for Cafe Istanbul and the other for Highland Tap. I was really excited to use the one for Cafe Istanbul. I love mediterranean food of any sort and from the website, the restaurant looked like it had a really fun atmosphere. We got all ready to go and I looked at the gift certificate and it was for Sunday through Thursday only. We debated going anyway, but thought it would be stupid since we have this gift certificate. So, Highland Tap it was.

Since we had a gift certificate, I felt like I could order a more expensive meal than normal. I had the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna.

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and a few of Jason’s fries.

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I thought the actual tuna was very good, but didn’t like the brown sauce that the vegetables were in.

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Highland Tap is a cool little place. It’s basically a steak house but they have a good variety of other things. The front of the place is a bar and the back is a sit-down restaurant. I’ve never really been to the bar part. It might get really crowded late at night, as bars in that area often do, but the restaurant part is dark and intimate. Plus they have good (but unpictured) bread.

After dinner, we met up with my friend Danny at a bar for a while. Then I turned into a pumpkin and had to go home. I had a slight case of the drunchies and ate a little muffin and some Triscuits and cheese. It could have been worse, I guess. There was no pizza involved!

I have nothing planned for the entire weekend and love that. Actually, that’s not true. I’m supposed to go to a bowling birthday party tonight. I love bowling! It’s one of those things that I always have a lot of fun doing, but never think to do. Other than that, my weekend plans include working out and buying some food for Thanksgiving. I’m actually staying here for the holiday for the first time in a long time. So I am going to attempt to cook!

So, who gets the yogurt? Drumroll, please The winner of the yogurt is

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Em from Homecooked Em! Email me your address and I will send it on to Chobani and they’ll send you your yogurt. Now I want to make all of these recipes on the Chobani page.