It’s been kinda… meh.

It’s time for another goals check-in! So far I have to say I’ve been pretty “meh” about the goals – at least about the ones that aren’t fun. The one that I’m falling down the worst on is eating real food. It’s sooo hard for me to do that one. I don’t know why. Is it the will-power thing? Is it lack of planning? I don’t know. I just know that it’s way too easy to eat weird stuff.

To a lesser extent I’m having issues with avoiding white stuff. When I’m home it’s pretty easy to avoid it. The only white things I have in my house are sugar and flour – and those are saved for baking. But when we go out to eat, it becomes a lot harder. Same thing at work too.

I downloaded a C25K app on my iPhone the other day. I had plans of working through it with DH starting today (he wants to run a half marathon with me, but he doesn’t run now). He got sick this weekend so I started it myself. The app is pretty good. I like having the audio cues so that I don’t have to look at my phone so much. The only down side is that it doesn’t keep track of how far I run. When I got home I had to figure it out with mapping software. Oh well. The point of the app is to use it as a cheat sheet for the C25K program, right? Right. I won’t be ready to run the whole 5k that I signed up for on March 11, but I’ll be ready for the next one.

So far I haven’t looked any further than the 5K in March. I should probably get on it and sign up for a couple more 5K’s and a couple of 10K’s too.

I’ve already finished 2 projects for February. Both are bags. One is cute, the other not so much. I also screwed up on a handle for the not cute bag. Oh well, it adds to the charm, right?

I’ve been doing super well with cooking a new recipe each week. Last night I made a super simple shrimp dish. Last week I made beef stroganoff. Oh, and today I’m trying my hand at a berry cobbler from our new Disney cookbook. I’m not sure what to make of the cobbler… it doesn’t look “right” to me.

I haven’t gotten started with the computer/work related goals either. I probably should start to do that soon.

Oh! And I did the first step for buying a house – I got our taxes ready to file. I just need to look at them one more time, get DH to hook up the printer again, and file them. I also got the paperwork together to change my name on our checking account. I want to start going through closets and cabinets and storage to get rid of things I don’t want to move into a new place. I know we’re several months away from buying, but I don’t want to have the added stress of a mad-tossing party.

I’ve also been helping my brother out with his blog (http://goesgreatwithbeer.com). He comes over once a week and cooks a meal. The meal is paired with beer. We post the recipe and a picture. He took a couple weeks off because I wasn’t home, but we’re back up and running now.

OK – it’s just about time to fold the laundry. Then I need to figure out what else is on today’s to do list. Until next time!

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The cute bag

 

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The not so cute bag

 

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Weekly Recipe: Tagine Chicken with Quinoa and Stewed Vegetables

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to cook a recipe each week that I haven’t cooked before.  This week my new recipe is tagine chicken with quinoa and stewed vegetables.  I found both recipes on Allrecipes.com – it’s a great website to visit for inspiration.  I followed the recipe for tagine chicken pretty closely, and I just used the stewed veggies recipe as a jumping off point for what I actually made.

I had all of the ingredients for the tagine chicken except for the couscous.  So I stopped in at the grocery store to pick some up.  Upon looking at the box and reading the ingredients list, I realized that couscous is highly processed.  *sigh*  So I looked around for 100% whole grain couscous to no avail.  I’m sure it exists, but not in that particular grocery store.  Then I caught site of quinoa.  It seemed healthier than the couscous, so I bought it.  It was pretty good! The main dish was easy to make and made my house smell delicious!

Then I realized that I’d be feeding a bunch of people and there probably wasn’t enough without some kind of side dish, so I did a search for Vegetables on allrecipes.  I found the recipe for vegetable tagine and used it as the basis for the stewed veggies I actually made.  So, here’s what I did with those:

Moroccan Inspired Stewed Vegetables

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped into medium-large pieces
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes, low sodium if possible
  • 2 tbsp  tomato paste
  • 48 oz fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook until onion is translucent.
  2. Add the carrots, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, coriander, cinnamon, garlic powder, turmeric, and cumin.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender.
  3. Add the garbanzo beans, salt and pepper.  Simmer until the garbanzos are warmed through.  Serve.

This recipe makes PLENTY of food.  And it goes very far as a side dish.  You could make a vegetarian meal out of it if you put it over couscous or quinoa.

So here’s the downside.  I forgot to take a picture.  That means you don’t get to see all the yumminess for yourself.  You’ll just have to make it and see!  DH really liked it.  Our friends liked it too.  I liked that most of the ingredients didn’t have weird stuff in it.  I mean, the apricots in the chicken dish had a couple of ingredients that protect the color, and the canned stuff all had extra salt, but other than that it was real food.

I’d totally make this stuff again.

DH Cooked: Egg Breakfast

DH and I thought that it wouldn’t be fair to discard a cookbook without trying to cook something from each section.  So, he chose to make an egg breakfast thing.  The cookbook called it eggs rancheros, but it didn’t look like any kind of eggs rancheros I’ve ever seen.

Jalapenos

This recipe required minced jalapeno, diced bell pepper, chopped tomato and chopped onion.  Saute everything except the tomato in a little oil until the onion is translucent.

Egg Mixture

Add the tomato, scrambled eggs (a lot of them!) and some cream. Finely chop a half a bunch of cilantro.  Toss it into the egg mixture.

Breakfast!

Scramble until the eggs are cooked.  This is almost impossible to do if you add too much cream, or if the liquid hasn’t cooked out of the vegetables.  Serve with some freshly fried corn tortilla strips.

This was a little too wet for me.  DH thought it was bland and added some tabasco sauce to it.  I could see us making it again, but only if we made it spicier and were able to cook all of the liquid out.

DH Cooked: Weird Chicken Burritos

After DH made chicken burritos like we always do, he thought he’d try following a recipe in the cookbook he picked up.  We both looked at the recipe and thought it sounded weird, but we agreed he should cook it anyway.

 

Onion-Clove MIxture

Brown some chicken breast, cube it and set it aside.  Then chop an onion and mince some garlic. Stick it in a sauce pan with some hot oil and ground cloves.  Yeah… now you know why it sounded weird. Who puts cloves in a burrito?

Add the Rice

Add a can of tomato sauce, some chopped tomatoes, and rice.  Simmer until the rice is cooked.  Add chicken stock as necessary to keep the mixture from drying out.

Burrito Pouches

Warm your flour tortillas until they’re pliable.  Add the chicken & rice mixture to each tortilla along with some shredded cheese, fold it into a little square and hold it closed with a toothpick.  Put the burrito pouch thingies into a baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

OK, we will never make these again.  Well, OK, we might make burrito pouches again, but never with this recipe.  The cloves were completely off-putting.  It was impossible to think of them as burritos when they tasted nothing like the burritos we know and love.  If I remember right, this recipe was the one that made DH and I decide to avoid using this cookbook for any additional Latin Cooking.

DH Cooked: Chicken Burritos and Pomegranate Margaritas (I cooked pineapple!)

A few weeks ago my husband thought he should make burritos.  After all, when Americans think of Latin food, we often think of things like burritos and tacos.  He wanted to make the kind of burritos that we usually make as a kind of day off from following a specific recipe.

Chicken

The first step was to cut the chicken into chunks and cook it.

Burrito Accessories

Then add the toppings, fold up your burrito and eat!

Pomegranate Margarita

And of course you have to enjoy it with a Pomegranate Margarita.  We didn’t really follow a recipe, just used pomegranate juice, triple sec and tequila. It took a bit of taste testing to get the ratios right. 😉

Pineapples!

We had some pineapple left from another recipe, so I decided to saute it in some brown sugar and brandy.

Pineapples and ice cream

We ate it with vanilla ice cream and relaxed.

DH Cooked: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf and 3 Kinds of Fudge

I’m still playing catchup with the blogs about my husband’s cooking.  Unfortunately, it means that I don’t exactly remember the recipes, or why he chose to make one particular meal over another.  I think we were watching TV – maybe Kitchen Nightmares? – and saw an episode where bacon wrapped meatloaf was one of the special dishes added to the menu.  The fudge came about because DH was tired of not being able to find rum raisin fudge anywhere.  And true to form, we went overboard, made three kinds and practiced plating.

Bacon wrapped meatloaf will work with any basic meatloaf recipe.  Ours always involves

  • 1-2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 chopped onions
  • 1-3 diced cloves of garlic
  • “a few shakes” of Worcestershire sauce
  • “a good squeeze” of ketchup (maybe 2 tbsp?)
  • “a handful or two” of bread crumbs or crushed saltines
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper, and any other spices we feel like throwing in to taste
  • A few tablespoons of BBQ sauce
  • Uncooked bacon

This time DH decided to saute the onions and garlic along with a mild chili pepper to give it a little kick.  Remember to let your onion mixture cool before adding it to the meat if you like to mix it with your hands.

Sauteeing onions

Mix together everything except for the BBQ sauce and bacon.  If it’s a little too wet, add some more bread crumbs or crackers.  If it’s too dry, add some more ketchup or Worcestershire. Shape the mixture into a loaf on a cookie sheet with sides so that the fat that cooks out of the meat loaf won’t end up in the bottom of your oven and cause a fire.  Spread the BBQ sauce on top of the meatloaf.  Drape the bacon over the top of the meatloaf.  Tuck the edges of the bacon under the loaf so that they won’t curl up.  Bake at 400-425* for 30-45 minutes or until done.  The bacon should be a little crispy.

Fresh Out of the Oven

For dessert we had 3 kinds of fudge.  I don’t remember which recipes we followed, but they were all made in the microwave.  We found the recipes online.  Keep in mind that your fudge needs to set in the fridge for several hours before you slice it.  If you don’t give it that time to firm up, you’ll be trying to serve a gloopy, yummy mess.

DH wanted to practice plating and pairing.  So with that in mind he made Rum Raisin (next to the strawberry, but supposed to pair with the grape), white chocolate orange (next to the grape, but supposed to pair with the strawberry), and basic milk chocolate (next to the raspberry).  We found a dessert wine in our liquor cabinet that had a caramelly taste to it, so he lined the edge of the plate in caramel to compliment the flavors.

Fudge, Fruit and Wine

I had a lot of fun helping him with this cooking night.  The meatloaf was really good, and was paired with baked asparagus and baked potatoes.  We had a couple of friends over who helped us make sure there weren’t any leftovers.  The fudge was creamy and dangerously delicious.  I had to take it to work to ensure that I wouldn’t eat any more of it.

We both learned that the portions we cut of the fudge needed to be smaller.  Having 2″ squares of each flavor on one plate seemed to be too much after such a hearty meal.

This was definitely a hit!

DH Cooked: Black Bean Salsa

My husband’s continuing quest to learn to cook resulted in a black bean salsa that was waaay to heavy on the onion…

Soak a half cup of dried black beans overnight, then drain, rinse and set aside.  Chop a red onion and add it to the bowl with the black beans.

One Chopped Red Onion

Meanwhile you’ll need to rehydrate a large dried chili and roast 2 fresh jalapenos.

Rehydrate the Chili

Seed and finely chop the chili and jalapeno.  Add both to the black bean mixture, along with a couple tablespoons of beer, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Top with cilantro.  Refrigerate for a few hours and enjoy!

Black Bean Salsa

What we learned from this salsa: if you’re questioning the recipe, there’s probably a good reason.  DH said “a whole red onion?  But these are big!”  I said “Well, the recipe says to use it…”  This resulted in way to oniony a flavor.  It completely overpowered the black beans.  So the next time we make it, it’ll definitely have less onion and more beans!

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