Tag Archives: foodie

And Now For Something Different: Adventures in the Kitchen

I am not a cook. I’m the daughter of a cook. And a baker. I grew up in a restaurant. But I’ve not inherited the genes that make one skillful at knowing what spices to combine with what bases.

I’m the one who tried to make her own coconut rice and had it described as “palatable.”

I tried to make a chocolate strawberry tart and the hubs needed a butcher knife to cut it.

Recently, I set a potholder on FIRE! 😀

And so, in our household, it is my partner, Joe, who does the cooking. And I remain ever grateful. But we’ve challenged ourselves to do things a little differently in our partnership and I’ve started making one meal a week with the goals of being health conscious and tasty.

Like a good little wi-fi (my husband’s nickname for me given my love of social media), I trolled pinterest for some recipes that looked good, easy to make, and were healthy. That means I was steering clear of recipes with a lot of dairy, red meat, or carbs. Here’s what the past 2 months have brought about.

*Note: All photographs are my own. I thought you should see what the food looked like when an amateur attempts to pinterest at home. Bon appetit! 

The Contenders

Buddha Bowls

Featuring the 30 Best Buddha Bowls, Yummy Mummy Kitchen included a winter bowl with curried chickpeas that I adapted at the end (scroll to the bottom of her post). I made the chickpeas as she described, then played around with my own vegetable options. I sautéed rainbow carrots and brussel sprouts in olive oil, ginger, and cumin until tender. And I added marinated beets and a thai cocount curry hummus which I purchased from my co-op to the top of the bowl. Everything was dumped on a bed of spinach. It’s a nice mix of sweet, spicy, creamy and tangy.

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White Bean and Avocado Burritos

I am not the best burrito roller, but halfway through I got the hang of it! This dish was really filling and nice for leftovers. Our favorite part was the cilantro lime sauce. Bonus, the recipe from Ceara’s Kitchen is also vegan, so if you’re looking for some meat-free meal options, this one’s good.

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Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

Alright, so pancakes aren’t exactly at the top of the health food menu, but it was the weekend and I wanted to do something special. Plus we’d received super yummy Canadian maple syrup from my brother’s family as a thank you for dog sitting so pancakes were really the only option.

This recipe from The View From Great Island is a very delicious lemony treat and goes great with fresh blueberries and turkey bacon on the side.

*Notice my absolute lack of skill in pancake flipping. I made Lemon Poppyseed Pan-shmooshes. 

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Chicken Tikka Masala

When the chef preparing this dish says she eats chicken tikka masala multiple times a week, you know you can trust the recipe to be pretty good. Found on Savory Tooth, this chicken tikka masala recipe was indeed, tasty.

This recipe requires an Indian spice blend called garam masala, which for those of you who live in a smaller city, could be hard to find. You can buy it online, but I was lucky enough to find it in the bulk aisle of my co-op and prepare my own baggie full of the spice. Buy extra, cause the next recipe calls for it too!

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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

I have absolutely no idea why this recipe is called Butter Chicken when there is, in fact, no butter in it. But for folks who like spice, then this dinner from Damn Delicious is the ticket. It’s extra spicy if you pair it, as I did, with Fooduzzi’s recipe for Sriracha Almond Butter Roasted Brussel SproutsZing! 

If you’re trying to cut out excess carbs too, you can put the chicken over a bed of chopped spinach instead of rice like we did, and sprinkle with cilantro.

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The Winning Favorites

The two best recipes, as favored by the hubs and I, were…

Crock Pot Thai Chicken Soup

From The Endless Meal, this recipe for thai chicken soup, which simmers in a crockpot for eight hours was DELECTABLE! Red curry paste mixed with chicken stock and coconut milk makes up the broth. Add chicken, plus whatever vegetables you want, and rice vermicelli noodles – which cook in 2 minutes! For veggies this time, I used red pepper, onion, mushrooms, and tomatoes. So savory and even the leftovers are delicious.

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Roasted Chicken With Vegetables

And the other hit was Roasted Chicken with Vegetables from The Cookie Writer. Another easy one pan meal – hooray! The cook behind this recipe saved time by buying chopped veggies from the grocery store, but I did my own chopping with what we had on hand already. I substituted chicken breasts for the bone in chicken, since we had 3 frozen chicken breasts to use up. And the veggies I cut up were cauliflower, green pepper, and baby carrots. My hubs loved the paprika and basil spice blend.

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There you have my adventures in the kitchen. It’s not going too bad!
Minus, you know, that ONE potholder. 😛

What are the recipes you love and return to?
See any on this list you might try? 

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The Art of Eating Rice Cake, Or Mistakes Made While Traveling Abroad

I’m a little over halfway in my To Be Read Pile Challenge. Which is saying a lot since last year, I think I only finished 4 books? This year I was more strategic with what I planned to read. I made my list a mix of humor books, book club books, and ones that have sat on my bookshelf too long.

My 2014 To Be Read Pile

  1. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
  2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  3. One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
  4. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  5. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  7. Crash Into You by Roni Loren
  8. She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  10. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  11. Bonk by Mary Roach
  12. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

I have some reviews to get up here yet, but I’ve finished reading 8 books already!

One of my favorite authors to read is David Sedaris, and I recently finished When You Are Engulfed in Flames on audiobook, which in my opinion, is the BEST way to read a Sedaris book. He has the greatest voice and often reads his work aloud – even drafts – which I think is fascinating. He is then able to tell his agent what lines got the biggest laughs by the audience. Very cool.

In this book, Sedaris talks a lot about living abroad and his relationship with his partner, Hugh, as well as the eclectic group of neighbors they’ve had over the years.

Over the course of their lives together, David and Hugh have lived in New York, France, and Japan. When I visited my friend Amy in South Korea, I spent hours practicing basic Korean phrases out of a language book I’d checked out from the library, only to arrive and find out I’d memorized them with the totally wrong pronunciation. Certain consonants sound very different in the Korean alphabet than they do in English. The letter ‘G’ for example, often takes on the sound of a ‘K’ in Korean.

I greatly sympathized and heartily laughed while reading David’s recount of being the dumbest kid in Japanese class. I loved that his teachers were still kind and encouraging to him, patting him on the head for being the dunce that he was, surrounded by a class much younger than he.

One day I was shopping in Insadong Market by myself and I stopped in a beautiful second floor tea shop to journal about my trip and watch the crowds of people traverse the street market below. I ordered a Green Tea Latte and what I thought was a delicious pastry of fried dough with cinnamon and sugar inside. Amy and her boyfriend, Lin, had bought one for me earlier in the week and it was a yummy treat.

100_2000I thought THIS is what I ordered.

Instead, what appeared on a plate before me was what I would describe as a melted patty of rice cake. Now, to be quite clear, rice cake is NOT cake. And it’s consistency is pretty chewy even at room temperature. The tea shop attendant also gave me the tiniest fork I had ever seen.

Not wanting to be rude, I picked up the fork made for fairies and tried to cut a piece of the rice cake off. It was so gooey, I ended up wrapping it around my fork like a spaghetti noodle, making giant rolling waves with my arm. It just kept winding…and winding!

Once inside my mouth, the rice cake coated my teeth so that my jaw was sealed tight by this taffy-like food. I ate about half of…whatever it was I ordered. When I later described the food to Amy and Lin, neither one had a clue.

Much like David Sedaris, I live life in an experimental manner, a sort of “well, this is what I said I  wanted so best to make everyone think I’m an expert at eating it.” But as the rice cake cooled, it stuck to the plate and I had to use my fairy fork to drag the stuff across it and wind it still. There was no grace or expertise about it.

I highly recommend David Sedaris’s book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames. It is a fantastic read for anyone who adores humor books and for lovers of wanderlust everywhere. The best part about travel is that you accept adventures. You could end up like David, sitting in a French hospital waiting room – naked. Or you might just accidentally order rice cake. 😉

*****

Thanks to all who left loving comments for my friend, Cat, last week. Your encouragement warms our spirits.

Now how about you? What are your favorite funny books or travel moments?

 

 

Guilty Pleasures: Turkey Curry Wraps, a No Fuss Recipe

Are you forever on the hunt for quick, easy, and healthy recipes?  I know I am.  As a girl who works 50+ hours a week, easy, yet tasty, meals are everything!

I’m a big fan of the magazine Simple and Delicious – that’s basically my lifestyle!  Here’s one I recently tried and enjoyed.  Could be a new guilty pleasure lunch!  Mmmm.

Turkey Curry Wraps

(sent in from Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, MO – Thanks Lisa!)

Turkey Curry Wrap1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. grated orange peel

3/4 tsp. curry powder

4 whole wheat tortillas (8 in.), room temperature

2 cups finely shredded cabbage

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 lb. thinly sliced deli turkey

Combine the mayonnaise, orange juice, peel and curry; spread over tortillas.  Top with cabbage, onion, oranges, cranberries and turkey.  Roll up.

Here’s the unrolled version before the turkey is on:

Turkey Curry Wrap

Add some chips and peach salsa as a side, presto!

You’ve got an easy, homemade, delectable lunch!

Turkey Curry Wrap

What are your go-to easy recipes?  Are you starting to look for those lighter, spring meals yet?  Even with snow on the ground here I’m craving citrus foods!

 

Guest Post by CJ West: His 10 Chocolate Guilty Pleasures

And we’re back!  This past Tuesday, I had thriller writer, CJ West over talking about his new short, Thugbook!  Today, CJ’s back at the Happiness Project reminiscing about his 10 untouchable guilty pleasures, and they all have to do with chocolate!  You see, CJ is working out for his upcoming debut on MANday, but a guy can be guilty once in awhile.  Check out his faves!

My Ten Chocolate Indulgences

I’ve been a chocoholic since birth so my ten indulgences had to be chocolate flavored. For those of you who follow me, you know I’m working out hard to get ready for the MANday wager I’ve got going on with Jillian Dodd. We have a bet that I can get in good enough shape to show off my abs on her blog in July.

Needless to say, I’m not eating a lot of chocolate right now. At least I can share my love in pictures. Drool with me.

#1 Chocolate Ice Cream

Before MANday, chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce was a regular treat. No special occasion required. Just open the freezer and there it is waiting for you to dig in.  Everyone has a little stress, right?

#2 Hershey’s Special Dark

At some point in my chocolate loving life, I moved on from milk chocolate to dark chocolate and I never looked back. Hershey’s makes this giant bar that is way too much for one person to eat in one sitting, but when you sit in front of the computer for hours typing away, it is quite possible to eat the entire bar without realizing.

#3 Nestle’s Toll House Morsels

Once upon a time I always had a bag of these in the house, not the little bag, but the giant bag. Okay, I admit it, I usually had two or three. They are great kept in the freezer. They don’t stick to your hands that way. You can carry them around for 5 minutes or so before they are all gone. If chocolate was a vegetable, there would be no need to stock other foods.

When these are in the house I eat way too many so I had to stop stocking them.

#4 Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles

I discovered these about two years ago. Delicious. They melt in your mouth the way harder chocolates can’t. A great indulgence, but not a diet staple.

#5 Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts


I did a horrible thing to my ex-wife. I introduced her to Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts for breakfast back when I got tons of exercise and was young enough to burn off the extra calories. DO NOT start eating these for breakfast. They are like crack. Not as bad for you, but they are every bit as hard to give up. Just say no!

#6 Toll House Cookie Dough

In my mind there isn’t another kind of cookie. I judged a baking contest last year and tasted some great cookies. The winner was an amazing combination of nuts and cranberries and dark chocolate. Still, if it was up to me, I’d pick a basic Toll House Cookie any time. And before you can get to the cookie, you have to eat some dough. Could you really bake cookies without eating at least one spoonful?

#7 Toll House Cookies

Yes, I do bake some of that dough! In my younger days we didn’t get sweets unless we baked them ourselves. I can remember my brother and I, we were teens, eating an entire batch before they cooled!

#8 Devil Dogs

One of the few store bought treats we got as kids. Mom got them from the thrift store and froze them so they wouldn’t go bad (like that would happen).  We never waited for them to thaw before eating them and to this day I prefer them frozen. If you live in a place where they don’t have these, get in your car now.

#9 Peanut Butter squares

In tenth grade a friend’s mother gave me a recipe to make these. They are similar to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup minus the preservatives and salt. To this day I can recite the recipe and whip them together in 15 minutes.  If there was a number 11 on this list, it would be a peanut butter square sundae with chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. Pure Heaven!

#10 Brownie Sundae

My ideal dessert wouldn’t look exactly like this one, but I chose the image because the brownies have chocolate chips! A must when you make brownies. I’d switch to chocolate ice cream and add a generous layer of whipped cream. Ahh.

Thanks for joining me in this virtual orgasm of chocolate goodness!

Thanks CJ for sharing your guilty pleasure list with us!  I had no idea what loving chocolate was like as I only eat 1-10 of those.  😉

Your turn!  What guilty pleasures sneak their way into YOUR cupboards?

 

The Nutrition Taxi Writer Mash-up

It’s the end of the week for my resolution to eat healthier and see how it would affect my energy and writing.

I can’t boast an amazing outcome as I’m now sick with some sort of cold and sore throat.  I think my niece coughed in my face a couple times and that’s what I get for coloring with her.  On the bright side, induced in a tylenol cold medicine sleep last night, I completely slept through some sort of war between my roommates.  Apparantly at some early morning hour a taxi showed up at our house and began ringing the doorbell repeatedly.  My boyfriend thought it must be our roommate and he locked himself out.  We have a spare key hidden that our roommate knows about.  My roommate, I guess, actually answered the door and figured out the taxi driver had the wrong house.  Oops, sorry.  However, my boyfriend, being in a particularly crabby mood this morning (unbeknownst to me in my medicated slumber) decided if he was up and awake, our roommate should be too.  So my boyfriend calls our roommate and repeatedly knocks on his door to wake him up, and now my roommate is also crabby.  I am positively delighted and cheery today because for once I slept through it all.  Yay!

Final Day Diet:

green tea and cough drops, if feeling better later, soup

I’m hoping after the weekend I’ll have a better appetite, so I did spend the better part of last night looking at recipes to make.  How does apricot chili pork chops with lemon spaghetti sound?  And chicken enchilada skillet?  And brown sugar steaks with parmesan potatoes?  Oh, I can’t wait to cook again!

Back to writing:

Last post, I challenged us writers to give ourselves SPACE and I’m still impressed with the idea to make changes in our lives, so I’m going to include that in my week’s resolutions.  I’d love to hear more about how each of you are giving yourself SPACE to grow, try something new, relax, reenergize.  What do you do get motivated again?  What are your guilty pleasures for writing?  What prevents you from arranging SPACE to grow in?  I can’t say thank you enough to the many bloggers/writers who have motivated me to keep going and think positive because any amount of change and any amount of writing is something proactive to have in your life.

This week I will give myself space by:

  1. Watching a Jane Austen movie.
  2. Cleaning my room of clutter.
  3. Journaling for my own enjoyment.
  4. Finish writing the icy mausoleum scene in my story.
  5. Blog ahead at least 2 posts.

Looking for more inspiration to get started?  Here are some posts I really enjoyed.

AJ Zaethe Great post on incorporating magic in your world building.

Albert Berg A post on how to plot when you hate plotting.

CM Stewart How to write realistic disabled characters.

Kristen Lamb Humorous post on Celebrity Death Match Author Edition.

Margaret Reyes Dempsey Serving up blurbs and hot tea while she’s snowed in!

Olivia Tejeda A brand new online literary journal debuts!

Ollin Morales Sending love to writers who haven’t figured out how to write just yet.

I Write Like I Eat Potatoes, With Cheese

Writers beware.  If you’re going to start changing your diet to see how it impacts your life, don’t begin that process the weekend of your niece’s 2nd birthday. 

The Weekend Begins

I was supposed to start out early on my three hour drive home, but instead, I slept in, and was lured to stay when my boyfriend offered to cook breakfast.  Inventory:  egg and cheese sandwhich on toast, hashbrowns, milk, and blueberry flavored coffee.  Ok, pack up the car in -11 degree temperature, clear snow off of windshield, check.  I was doing really well so far.  I only stopped once on the drive to use the restroom, and I wasn’t planning to buy a thing.  But the lonely man behind the counter stared me down in his bowling shirt and disheveled facial hair.  Inventory:  gatorade and cheez its – -damn!  Saturday night I successfully finished writing a 10 stanza long rhyming birthday poem of all things Sonja to be read for her party. 

The Party Day

The family oohed and aahed before we began to eat.  Inventory:  Brown sugar french toast, apple cinnamon squash, eggs, bacon, cheesy potatoes, mixed fruit, and broccoli and cauliflower salad.  Oh, Lord, so many tasties!  I made sure to take extra broccoli, and ok, I also took extra potatoes, but I wasn’t planning to write directly afterwards.  I was planning to watch my two year old niece unwrap presents in a quick half hour and then cheer on the Packers during the game.  Oh the game!!!  Inventory:  tortilla chips with chili cheese dip and black bean and corn salsa.  No judgement, I needed to replenish myself, the Packers needed all of our cheering help, and salsa as you know helps the vocal chords immensely.  On a side note, since some of you have gotten to hear about my father, I’ll have you know he did a rather spastic touchdown victory dance that was something of a combination between churning butter and the hokey pokey. 

Upon returning home to my parents’ we skipped dinner altogether as we were so stuffed.  But after watching a movie, the urge to nibble striked once more.  I opened the fridge.  Oh glorious dips!  My mother had stocked up at the grocery store and we had french onion, dill, and taco dip sitting in the fridge.  NO!  I will behave at least once today.  I grabbed a bag of carrots.  I ate about 15.  And then I ate about 30 chips with taco dip.  At least they went down together.  Have you heard that Mitch Hedburg joke?  He talks about eating a carrot and a chip, and the carrot says, “It’s ok, he’s with me.”   

I will do better tomorrow.  Did someone just say pizza???

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