Hey Dear Readers!
Remember to update your links with my new URL: http://thechiclife.com
and update your RSS and Google Reader feeds, too! :)
Hey Dear Readers!
Remember to update your links with my new URL: http://thechiclife.com
and update your RSS and Google Reader feeds, too! :)
The Chic Life has moved!!
Lots of stuff going on over at my new blog site: http://thechiclife.com...
My kitchen has new countertops and tile! Click here to see the latest.
I made some awesome turkey chili served with some yummy cheesy toast.
I made more of my yummy Power Toast!
And I finally tried vegan-fave Coconut Bliss ice cream - so good!
Remember, to celebrate my big bloggie move, I'm having a giveaway! You can win any of these 3 prizes: a necklace I made, some earrings I made, and some cookies I will make just for you!
I've been sitting on the domain thechiclife.com for far too long! After many, MANY hours of work this past weekend (thus the lack of posting here), I've completed the move! Hooray!
You can check out my new site at: http://thechiclife.com (click) (please update your links and RSS/Google Reader/Etc Feeds)
To celebrate the move, I'm doing a giveaway! Because who doesn't like to win things for free, right? Right!
Here are some items up for the winning :
Handmade jewelry by moi! Sterling silver and gemstone, too! (US and Canada)
And did you want my homemade vegan chocolate chip cookies a la Dreena?! (US only)
You can win those too!
Giveaway lasts till next Thursday, February 4th, 2010.
Remember to update your links and feeds!
I feel like I’ve worked a six day work week in four! Wow, have things been crazy this week or what.
Today was no exception.
I had another yummy breakfast parfait with Vanilla Chobani and Bear Naked Fit berry granola. 1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme coffee to wake up.
I tried my new Organic India Tulsi tea today – Chai Masala. It was yummers. I made friends with a nice Indian lady in the break room today. We chatted briefly about tea and she told me about how she made her own Masala tea at home. She said she’d give me some of her homemade tea. I hope she does…I’d love to try it!
I had a morning conference call that ran over and made me late for my lunch date!
I had a ladies’ lunch with my friend Megan. As you guys know, I rarely get lunch breaks, but was lucky enough to not only get one today but I got to spend it with a great friend! I need more ladies’ lunches!
Megan is also doing the Eat in Month Challenge, so we just brought our own lunches from home to eat together. Megan had a most-awesome lunch packed with a fresh salad, some orange slices, and yogurt.
I had an AB&J (Barney Butter almond butter & Earthfare Organic Pomegranate jelly) with some New Years salad from Earthfare – collards and black eyed peas. It was very good!
I got home around 12:20pm with just enough time to make a quick trip to the granite store before a 1pm conference call. Yikes!
After lunch and before some conference calls, hubby and I had to make an impromptu trip to look at tile grout. The grayish-tan slab of granite will be going above our “peninsula.” At the granite store, they put up a white door with the granite and our potential tiles so we could see what the colors would look like together.
We went with the darker tan color pictured.
The grout colors looked interesting. They reminded me of a box of pastels like my Dad bought my sis and I to draw with when we were younger (still have some somewhere!).
We went with a dark-tan color. Not brown, just darker than off-white.
Back at the house, our contractor laid a couple of our tiles out so we could see what they looked like and if we wanted them laid normal or off-set. We went off-set.
They are tiling our kitchen this weekend – I can’t wait to see the final results!
We’re getting our granite on Monday! Hubby and I still have to pick out hardware for our doors…wow, it’s all coming together!
I started feeling snacky again in the afternoon while I was dialed into conference calls from home.
I had some more granola with skim milk.
I was savoring a spoonful of Barney Butter when I happened to glance over and see…
Bailey staring me down. I could practically hear him wooing me…”Cmon mom… you know you want to give me some of that!”
My snacks got progressively more random – a slice of Great Harvest honey whole wheat bread. Just plain. What can I saw? I love my carbs!
A mini piece of dark chocolate.
After 3 hours of conference calls but before my 5pm, I had to
After a successful presentation to my co-workers and a quick wrap up of my jewelry orders, I packed dinner and some snacks and we hit the road.
Sammie – honey whole wheat with turkey, co-jack, baby romaine, and Earthfare dijon mustard. I forgot how tasty dijon mustard is! Yum! Totally made my sammie taste different.
Oh and I would have preferred to eat something other than more bread for dinner. Though I do love my carbs dearly, I also love variety. But not having a kitchen makes variety difficult, so I’ll take what I can get.
A quick couple hour long car ride later and I’m at my MIL’s house blogging away.
I have to update the bake sale page and then try to hit the sack. I am completely exhausted! Phew what a week!
Lots to do this weekend:
Have a great weekend everyone!
A New Challenge
With the Eat in Month challenge winding down, I’ve already got a new challenge in the works. I think I’m gonna call it Miss Fitness February and it’s going to be fitness/exercise related! Anyone interested? Details to come… ;)
Green tea that is. More on that later...let's start with breakfast.
I did another no-cook breakfast (thanks to my continued lack of kitchen, which prob won't be done till Monday at the earliest).
I also had 1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme coffee to drink.
For the eats, I made a quick yogurt parfait with Stonyfield OIkos Vanilla Greek yogurt with Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Crunch Granola and some hemp seeds. Though I do miss my hot oatmeal quite a bit, this stuff is the shiz-nit! I am really loving it!
I basically noshed and sipped tea all day at work - food/drink-wise. (I worked my hiney off!)
I tried a new tea - Organic Tulsi tea by Organic India in Sweet Rose. It was fabulous! The tea was gentle and the rose was more of an aroma to me than a taste. I really enjoyed it.
Have you heard of Tulsi tea before? Tulsi is the new Green (tea).
My co-worker, who is Indian, told me that tulsi is supposed to be anti-stress and help prevent colds. I don't know if it's true, but I'm hoping it is!
According to the tea box, "Tulsi is revered as a sacred plant infused with healing powers....(and) helps your body relieve the negative effects of stress"
For lunch I had a hickory smoked turkey sandwich with co-jack cheese, baby romaine, toasted on Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat.
I had a half container of marinated kale with lots of sesame seeds. It was soooooo good! I think I liked it better than the sammie!
Later in the day, I was feeling the stress of the work day and brewed up some more Tulsi tea. I took just a couple quick minutes between conference calls to savor my tea and take some deep breaths. I felt much better for it.
Some dark chocolate helped, too.
For an afternoon snack, I had some more snacks.
I was kind of saving the rest of my kale for lunch tomorrow but decided to go ahead and eat the rest today.
I also had an organic banana....
...and a 1000 layer cracker.
Oh and another mini piece of dark chocolate.
I cheated on EIM again for dinner and went back to Earthfare. The way I see it, I could prepare food somewhere random like in the bathroom or the sunroom and wash my plasticware in the bathroom sink whilst attempting to let as little food as possible go down the drain...OR, I could let Earthfare handle the dishes. I chose the latter.
I've been getting tired of the balsamic dressing I've been using but luckily the nice people at Earthfare opened a new salad dressing (Sun-Dried Tomato) for me. Yay!
Hubby and I got some random stuff and shared it: vegan chili, salad (romaine, babyspin, purple cabbage, carrots, sprouts, broccoli, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, bell peppers, celery), a blueberry mini loaf and a vegan chocolate chip muffin.
NOM! The vegan muffin was amazing! I totally loved it!
Since I loved the Sweet Rose flavor so much, I decided to get another Organic India hot tea - Chai Masala! The $1 off coupon I found at Earthfare was pretty awesome. I can't wait to try this new flavor! Cold, cold, go away, come again another day!
Here's the latest on the kitchen. Our contractor stopped by today and sanded down some spots where the paint was off on the cabinets. He put the mini desk back in place, and they put the drawers back into the cabinets.
Here's why I can't cook. My stove and microwave are in our freakin living room! Ugh...sorry for the mess people. Things will look better once our cabinets are installed and we can get things organized.
They also started installing our "peninsula". It's basically a kitchen island, but it's attached to a wall, so we're calling it a "peninsula." lol
We have a lot more work lined up for the weekend. I'm hoping things are complete by next week! So exciting!
Bake Sale Update
The amazing Fran Costigan of The Natural Gourmet Institute, dairy-free baker extraordinaire, has joined the Online Bake Sale for Haiti! I first heard about Fran when I saw her Chocolate Cake to Live For (vegan) on the Get Fresh with Sara Snow show. Her recipe was the first vegan recipe I was thrilled to try and I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to try it some time. I haven't tried the recipe yet but I hope to soon. In fact, whenever I finally make a trip to NYC, a trip to the NGI and a class with Fran will be on my agenda.
Thanks so much for joining the bake sale Fran! :)
Have you ever baked anything vegan? If yes, what's your favorite vegan thing to bake? If no, why haven't you tried any vegan baking recipes yet?
I kept breakfast cook-free.
Coffee, Vanilla Oikos, Bear Naked Fit (hubby picked the granola out).
How awesome is this granola! I love the little fruit puffs...they melt away! So neat! Great flavor!
I'm loving these colors together.
I tried a new frozen meal today - Helen's Kitchen - Hearty Bean Chili , which seems to be based on tofu steaks. I wasn't sure what tofu steaks were but I soon found out.
High points - yay GMO free!
Recommended garnish. Nice!
The tofu steaks were like rectangles of a nice, firm tofu. I l liked them.
I enjoyed the chili with an AB&J - Barney Butter (almond butter) and organic pomengranate jelly on Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat. I don't think I remember PB&J style sammies being this good! New lunch staple maybe?
Four pitted dates a co-worker brought in. It amazes me how sweet dates are! They are sweeter than chocolate!
And here's where I cheated a little...
As much as I love this Eat in Month Challenge, I really don't see myself eating a week's worth of frozen/processed foods. I decided to go out, but to stay as close to home-cooked food as possible.
I thought, hey...I could go to the grocery store and get a bunch of veggies to prep a salad, but why dirty up knives, cutting boards, and plateware I can't easily clean (the bathroom sink is TINY!). I also figured I could heat a can of soup up, but same problem...where to clean!?
Hubby and I went to Earthfare and I got an affordable dinner - salad and vegan minestrone soup.
Soup was awesome!
Salad: baby spin, romaine, carrots, purple cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, sprouts, feta, balsamic dressing. Nomalicious and REAL food!
Though the frozen meals I've been eating have been as unprocessed as possible, I still think there's no replacement for REAL food. I prefer to use frozen meals and processed foods occasionally, rather than the majority of the time.
I was not able to resist the cookie bar. As hubby pointed out, I could buy a pack of 6 cookies to take home and eat or I could just get one. It felt like cheating but it felt so right!
More photography practice.
Now you see it...
Now you...well you see it's "ghost". This is called "ghosting" - where you sort of see an image, but it's almost see-through, like a ghost!
Anywho, the ghost did not disappear...not into thin air at least. I ate it and it was delish! Yummers!
I can't wait for more baked goodies next week. I see so many things I want to bid on!
Speaking of the Online Bake Sale for Haiti...we have 53 bakers guys! You are all wonderful! Thanks for supporting the bake sale by offering to bake and/or even just spreading the word through blog posts, tweets (#bake4haiti), and word of mouth. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I was 10 minutes late for class tonight, but luckily I only missed some homework photo sharing, instead of key lectures.
Tonight, we headed down to a light rail stop to practice with shutter speeds, lights, and movement.
Here are some fun shots I got from the night (some thanks to my new tripod! tripod buying tips to come!)
I think this one looks like there's an explosion in the background. See my classmate floating away?
This one looks better blown up. 3 of my classmates are getting some info from our instructor as the lights have some fun effects.
Beams of light
I wish I hadn't waited so long to get the camera I did...or take these photography classes. I wish I could have afforded them back in college when I really wanted to start. Oh well, no crying over spilt milk...time to make the best of what I have! And I'm enjoying every minute of this class and my photography experiments!
Thanks to my non-existent kitchen, I kept dinner simple. I don't mind eating foods that don't require a lot of cooking (or any for that matter) but not really having a good place to wash my dishes or prep food does kind of stink. Ok, it really stinks!
Tonight, I managed to still eat in.
Almond butter and jelly sammie with some frozen veggies, pretzels and water on FRESH great harvest bread! I LOVE fresh bread...I could eat a whole loaf!
My star ingredients: Barney Butter + Zin Zinfandel Grape Jelly from my trip to California Wine Country - Sonoma. Oh how I wish I could go back! I got this jelly at the Bella Vineyards (so neat - go there if you're in wine country!)
What are some easy meals you make when you don't feel like cooking or doing dishes?
So, I think I mentioned the other day that I have no kitchen. Worst part...I thought we'd get our kitchen back no later than Thursday. Now it's looking like Monday. Gah! I can't eat frozen dinners all week! I may have to cheat on Eat in Month... *sad face*
Here's where our sink is supposed to be.
Here's where our stove is supposed to be.
And somewhere back there is our dishwasher.
I think you see now why I may have to cheat on Eat in Month. You guys wouldn't be too mad, would you?
With little in the way of flat property (our dining room table is covered with stuff from the kitchen cabinets), I decided to setup our coffee machine in the bathroom. Sorry if that's gross, but when you need coffee, you need coffee and without a sink in the kitchen, this is it.
The yogurt was nice and tangy so I crumbled a bit of the bar on top. The bar was really really yummy! I would definitely buy this bar again. I also have another bar in an apple flavor and can't wait to try it.
I had a Kashi Lemongrass Chicken frozen dinner for lunch.
I thought the flavor was nice and unique and I am a BIG fan of the Kashi pilaf. So glad to have some good grains for lunch.
Readable ingredient list - check!
Nutrition info - not too shabby. Nice protein.
I headed out after work to buy a tripod for photography class tonight (boy are they expensive!!!) and I picked up some Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat so I'd have something to eat for dinner.
I also scored a sample of whole wheat sourdough and a bite of banana almond muffin (samples don't count for EIM).
Then, I was off to Photography class! I was running late, though...eek!
Hubby and I enjoyed a smooth ride with some great XM radio on our car ride back home from my parent's house. We were very excited about seeing our newly painted kitchen cabinets. If you don't remember, they used to look like this (click).
We came home to the smell of fresh paint and this...
Ok, so it doesn't really look very good what with cabinets open and pieces of painted wood everywhere, but we really think the kitchen looks so much more open! The cabinets were still wet and therefore drying, which wasn't so much a problem except the smell of paint is really REALLY strong! Eww!
The worst part? No stove, no sink, no countertops...making the Eat in Month Challenge a REAL challenge tonight!
I decided to figure dinner out later and headed to zumba class with some new zumbawear! An instructor jacket and a headband. Firstly, I freakin LOVE this jacket and secondly this headband rocks! I think the headband is going to become a staple of my workout wardrobe. I love how I can keep my hair down while I dance but the headband keeps my hair out of my face. Score!
Anywho, I had a blast as class (as always!) and got a good 1 1/2 hours of cardio in, plus some stretching. I can't wait to join a gym, though, because I'd really like to incorporate some strength training to my routine!
"Challenge" is the Key Word
As for food, I thought briefly about just tacking on an extra day to Eat in Month and eating out tonight with my GFs, but they couldn't do dinner tonight anyways #1 and #2...I'm just not a quitter! If I commit to something, I try my best to finish whatever it is out.
I didn't have a sink (no dirty dishes, please) or countertops (nowhere to prep) or a stove (ok, that leaves the microwave), so I decided a frozen meal was my best option.
I busted out this TJ's Garden Vegetable Lasagna.
oh yes, some random plastic silverware and a paper plate. Nice!
This wasn't the best lasagna I've ever had, but the ingredient list is pretty impressive, so I appreciate that. The lasagna had a kind of funny aftertaste, but overall, I thought it was pretty good for frozen lasagna. I'd buy it again.
I had a TJ's chocolate soy milk for dessert and called it a day (eat wise...still more work to do).
Tonight, I have to check my email and compile bakers. I am so impressed with how many people have signed up! You guys are amazing!
My mom and sis had to work today, so hubby, Dad, and me were on our own eat-wise.
I heated up some leftover frittatas and a whole wheat roll (with a dab of butter on the side). Coffee and a mini glass of OJ to drink.
After breakfast, hubby, Bailey, and I headed out for a quick photo shoot in the downtown area of my parent's town.
My first moving water photo! So neat!
Bailey made some doggie friends at the park.
I had leftover pancit and lumpia for lunch.
I also noshed on some of these irresistible Brown Rice chips...nom nom nom.
After some sweet rice for dessert, we hit the road to head home and check out our freshly painted cabinets.
Eek! So exciting!
PS Haiti Bake Sale Participants - I've received several more submissions and I've got you! I just need to add you to my info and update the post...it takes longer than you would think, so I haven't had the chance yet, but I will get you added! Thanks for joining in! :)
Photography homework continues…even at breakfast.
Most importantly in the AM – Coffee!
We had a big spread at breakfast.
Scrambled eggs, bacon…
Fresh grated cheddar to top…
Breakfast potatoes with onion, red pepper, and fresh parsley.
Per the usual, I had a wee bit of everything. OJ to drink.
I had an almond twist my sister made with the leftover puff pastry and almond paste from our Galette des Rois from yesterday. It was quite tasty and a nice use of leftovers (though we do have about a half can of the almond paste left…hmm…maybe we’ll make cookies?)
I enjoyed some of these strangy, airy brown rice chips my fam got from Costco. This stuff is addicting! I noshed on these whilst researching charities for my Online Bake Sale for Haiti (we’re still looking for bakers and the attention of some potential bidders).
After getting some good work done on the bake sale, I was called downstairs to take some photos of the prep work for our Filipino feast – food to celebrate my mom and hubby’s b-days.
My sister rolled up some lumpia (Filipino spring/egg rolls)
Then she got started on dessert – sweet rice! A family favorite. This dish is basically made with a sticky dessert rice, brown sugar, and coconut milk. Mmm…
I just had to taste test. ;)
My mom was halfway done cooking some pancit (like a Filipino rice noodle stir fry) when my camera battery died.
Luckily, I had my ninja camera on backup!
Taste test for the chef (moi! ok mostly my mom…lol)
Cover and cook through.
Sauce for the lumpia
Pan frying the lumpia
And lunch is ready! (and my camera battery was charged up with enough juice to wrap up our eats).
Our mini Filipino celebration feast. These are some dishes served at Filipino parties.
Gotta have rice.
My family is experimenting with a sticky Japanese rice. I think I like the Jasmine better. I like sticky rice, but in my sushi and sweet rice.
Delicious Pancit with a medley of meats and veggies.
Golden brown lumpia.
Hubby and Dad decided to have leftover Galette des Rois for dessert. Dad found the bean and became king for the day! First order of business – order tea!
I had sweet rice for dessert. Nom-alicious!
Blueberry tea with honey whilst hanging out with my parents, fixing jewelry, talking, digesting…
Then, I headed upstairs to work on the Online Bake Sale for Haiti. I spent a few hours compiling names, updating my Excel (which I geekily used with concatenation formulas to create HTML for my blog post), and emailing.
After staring at my computer screen for probably too long, I headed downstairs for a snack-y dinner.
My Dad made some grilled cheese sammies with harvarti and whole grain mustard. I traded in half of my whole wheat version for half of Dad’s pumpernickel. Piece of pickle on the side…gotta love that tanginess!
It’s not every day you’ve got homemade pancit laying around, so I made sure to have a small serving of it, too.
What else but sweet rice for dessert? Served with a little skim milk on the side and heated just slightly in the micro.
Ok, so it’s not the most photogenic, but I assure you, it’s delicious! It’s vegan and gluten-free, too since it’s made with coconut milk and rice!
Online Bake Sale for Haiti Update
Just a quick note to say, Wow! How amazing is this community of bloggers?! As of tonight I have 29 bakers signed up and a few others who have indicated interest. I really think that by pulling our forces together, we’re going to be able to raise some great money for Haiti (via the Red Cross)!
I’m currently looking for any companies interested in matching our final donation total, if any are interested.
And, of course, we’re still looking for bakers and looking to gain interest from potential bidders. I’m posting the list of goodies that will be available for bidding on Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010 early (as I get them) so you can go ahead and start eyeing your selection. I already have a couple picked out I’d like to bid on!
Click here to learn more about the Online Bake Sale for Haiti. You can get code at the previous link if you’d like to add the Bake Sale banner image to your side bar.
Thanks to everyone for your support and for helping spread the word!
When I did my two exchanges to France in high school, both times I went in January. In January, it’s quite common to enjoy a Galette des Rois – at least a couple…or more, if you like. At least we ate a TON with the family I stayed with (perfect for my sweet tooth)!
Though it’s a bit late in January, I knew that I wanted to celebrate a Galette des Rois whilst visiting my family and decided tonight seemed like the best night to break it out.
I found this recipe online at All Recipes (click). I’ve used a couple others, but this is one of the best and easiest I’ve seen – try it out if you’d like – it’s a good one.
The key ingredient in the galette is almond paste…be still my heart! This stuff smells and tastes amazing.
The other key ingredient is obviously the puff pastry.
Roll the puff pastry, cut to size in a circle, add filling.
Add a dried bean. The person who gets the bean is the “king”!
Top with second piece of puff pastry, press seams, brush with egg wash.
Top with confectioner’s sugar.
Bake a wee bit more till the top is golden brown.
Serve…and maybe work on some photography homework:
If you can’t tell by the numerous photos…I simply ADORE this cake! I have so many fond memories of my time spent in France with my wonderful French families. Enjoying this cake is like taking a slice out of history and reliving it for just a moment.
I had my cake with a little milk (hubby helped me finish this giant mug)
Nom nom nom
Slice #2 – enjoyed whilst getting cozy on the couch.
I could have stopped after the first slice, but it’s not every day you have a homemade Galette des Rois in the house, so I decided to just enjoy it.
Everyone in my fam loved it but no one got the bean! Guess someone noshing on one of the remaining 3 slices will be the king tomorrow!
Since we skipped right over lunch (or did we skip dinner?), I decided to have a snack later in the evening. I tried Kefir for the first time since my dad was cracking open the one they had in the fridge. I’ve always been afraid to try this stuff because I thought it may taste weird. It tastes like a drinkable yogurt. It was actually quite nice. I’d definitely buy this now that I know it’s yummy.
I also dug into leftovers from breakfast – a healthy blueberry muffin and some mini broccoli/parm frittatas.
I have had the best day checking my iPhone and smiling at gmail updates with all the wonderful bloggers and friends who have emailed and commented in their desire to participate in the Online Bake Sale for Haiti. Thank you so much for your support! I know with wonderful people like you we’re going to have an awesome bake sale! For those who can’t seem to find my email, it’s thechiclife at gmail dot com. I’ll be updating the bake sale page just after wrapping up this post to add all the fabulous bakers and insert my email address a couple more places. The post has a lot of information, so I’m sure it’s easy to lose my email in the mix.
On to today…
My parents still own the house I grew up in as a rental property. I refuse to let them sell it because I think it’s more valuable kept in our family, even though it’s not the easiest to maintain most of the time. Their renters moved out recently so my family has been spending some time over at our old house fixing things up.
I think growing up in this house is the reason I have a love of older-cottage-bungalow-style homes. They remind me of this one!
I love the hardwoods, the framing, the large windows, the built-in bookcases…ahh…
Here’s my old bedroom!
We had a super late lunch that turned into an early dinner. Whoops!
Burgers – some with cheese.
Lettuce and tomato (so vibrant red!).
I gave my mom her present before dinner.
Square Foot Gardening! Yup, just like the copy I have. My parents have almost always had gardens throughout the various homes we’ve lived in (we’ve moved a lot), but I really think this style may bit them the best.
I had something special planned for dessert…I think it’s best captured in a separate post…
Ready to bid? Click on this graphic:
Along with most of the country, and I’m sure many of you, I’ve been haunted by the images and videos coming from the tragedy in Haiti. Today, I watched a video of a little 11 year old girl who was pinned down in some rubble for two days. I’d like to say after they freed her from whatever had her stuck that she made it to a hospital and survived but, tragically, she did not. I saw video of her alive, being given water to drink, re-adjusting her glasses, and it’s hard to grasp that she didn’t make it. The photos, videos, and stories from Haiti move me to tears, and I’ve felt nothing but helpless sitting at home, taking it all in.
But, I’ve decided that it’s time to do something to help…
Inspired by this vegan bake sale taking place in NYC by Super Vegan, I am hosting an online bake sale to raise money for Haiti. I haven’t figured out where to donate the money just yet, but it will be donated to a solid organization that I feel will use the money responsibly. After much research and thought, I've decided to donate the money raised from the bake sale to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund. The Red Cross is a widely respected charity and one that I've personally volunteered for in the past.
Bake Sale Details:
Looking for Bakers, please!
Please email me at thechiclife at gmail dot com if you’re interested in donating something to the bake sale. I’ll accept bakers up till the day of the bake sale – Wednesday, January 27th, 2010. I'm now accepting bakers until Sunday, January 24th. Sorry to move the date up, but thanks to the amazing outpouring of support from the blogosphere, I have so many wonderful bakers that I think I need a couple extra days prior to the sale to get ready. :)
Bakers, please email me the following:
No longer accepting bakers, but thanks for your interest! We will however need a TON of bidders! Please check back on Wednesday to bid. :)
NOTE: If you have emailed me but do not see your name/info here, please email me asap at thechiclife at gmail dot com. If you do see your info, please take a look to make sure it's correct and complete. Thanks!
Bakers Signed up:
I'll get this list in a format easier to read, but wanted to go ahead and post up some bakers with their items others can decide what to bake. Please email me at thechiclife at gmail dot com if you're interested in joining us. We'd love to have you!
|Adrien of Confessions of a Health Nut||black and white crispy square||no||no||prefer Canada, but will do US too|
|Alyson of Nourished Fitness||Lemon Cookies||no||no||anywhere|
|Amanda||lemon, cranberry, and almond biscotti||no||no||both|
|Angela of Oh She Glows||X's and G'los Valentine's Day Variety Pack (10 bars)||yes||no||both|
|Anna of Oats N Boats ~ Smile & Glow||Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies & Matzo Crack/toffee (separate)||(Matzo - opt'l vegan)||no||US|
|Ashley of Edible Perspective||2 batches ota.bars (granola bars - Choices will be: peanut butter crunch : cherry almond : apple apricot walnut almond : coconut cranberry almond) - listed separately||yes||no||US|
|Beth of Fat Buster||brown sugar chocolate cookies||no||no||US|
|Brittany of Eating Bird Food||Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies||optl||no||US|
|Caronae of Run, Write, Therapy, Life||whole-grain banana/walnut/chocolate chip bread||no||no||both|
|Carrie of Cookie Girl Creations||variety of cookies (optional gift wrap)||no||no||US|
|Christie of Honoring Health||Triple Chocolate Walnut Cookies (made with almond flour)||no||yes||US|
|Courtney of Things I've Learned||Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies||no||no||both|
|Diana (me!) of The Chic Life||Homestyle Vegan Choc Chip Cookie||yes||no||US|
|Elizabeth of On Tap for Today||dozen dark chocolate covered Oreos||no||no||both|
|Emma of Em in Action||Lemon-Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies,
1 batch 6 cups of berry granola, second batch 6 cups of berry granola
(separately) These will be made with spelt flour and be made with organic ingredients.
|Fran (as seen on "Get Fresh with Sara Snow") of Fran Costigan||Organic almond anise nibby biscotti||yes||no||US|
|Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter||Maple Nut Oaties||yes||opt'l||US|
|Heather of Hangry Pants||either Super Charge Me (vegan) or White Chocolate Chip Lime (2 batches, buyers choice, separate-1 batch per bidder)||(SCM-yes, WCCL-no)||no||US|
|Heather of The Single Dish||peanut butter choc chip cookies and also rice krispie treats||no||no||US|
|Heather of Then Heather Said||trio of cookies: toffee crackle cookies, pumpkin spice ball cookies, and chocolate cinnamon chip cookies||no||no||US|
|Heidi of Crumbs Bakery LLC||dozen custom frosted cut-out cookies. Whatever theme the winner would like….Valentine’s Day, baby shower, birthday etc…||no||no||US|
|Jaime of Embracing Balance||Mayan Chocolate Sparklers||optl||no||both|
|Jessica of Finding Myself Through Words||Fruity Granola Bars||no||no||US|
|Jessica of Dairy Free Betty||Peanut Butter Cups||yes||yes||both|
|Jessie of Don't Forget Dessert||peanut butter oatmeal dog treats and some Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter cookie (separate)||no||no||US|
|Joy Always Joy||Homemade Dog and/or Horse Treats (vegetarian & human grade)||(opt'l vegan)||no||both|
|Julie of Savvy Eat||Vegan Chai Tea Scones||yes||no||US|
|Kara of Kara's Marathon||peanut butter cup cookies and chocolate chip cookies (separate)||no||no||US|
|Kate of For the Love of Breakfast||cranberry, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies||no||no||US|
|Kate, as in wife of Nate of The Blog Stalker||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Katie of Sweet Tater||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Katy of The Balanced Foodie||Two Loaves of Banana Bread (auctioned together)||no||no||US|
|Katy of Silly Tater Tot||Whole Wheat Molasses Bread||no||no||both|
|Keri of Way Past Ramen||Milk Chocolate Walnut Fudge & Margarita Bars (separate)||no||no||US|
|Kimberly of Jet Set Life||two dozen Dark Chocolate Cherry & Nut Clusters||no||no||US|
|Lindsay of Designer Wife||Vegan Magic Cookie Bars||yes||no||US|
|Lisa of Anali's First Amendment||TBD||no||no||both|
|Maria||Super Chocolately & Rich Brownies (Walnuts optional)||no||no||US|
|Melanie||bake chocolate covered popcorn and blueberry bunt cakes (separate)||no||no||TBD|
|Melissa||Sugar Cookies (rolled in sugar & almost organic) - 2 batches of two dozen, separate||no||no||US|
|Melissa of Project Bare||amazing granola bars||no||no||both|
|Mellissa of A Fit & Spicy Life||chocolate dipped macadamia coconut macaroons||no||no||US|
|Michelle of Eating Journey||Anzac Biscuits(Australian oatmeal cookie)||no||no||anywhere|
|Morgan of Live, Love, Eat, Play||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|My mom||Famous Cinnamon Swirl Bread||no||no||US|
|Nicole of Another One Bites the Crust||vegan chocolate chip banana muffins + something else TBD||yes||no||TBD|
|Nicole of Geek Turned Athlete||Signature Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies||no||no||anywhere|
|Olivia of You Can Call Me Liv||whole wheat cranberry, almond, and dark chocolate biscotti||no||no||US|
|Rachel of Rachel Hearts Food||two batches of customizable granola. Each bag of granola will contain approx. fifteen 1/3 c. servings, and the winning bidders can pick up to four things to add to the oats. This recipe is made with agave nectar and is vegan (2 separate listings)||yes||no||both|
|Rebecca of All Vegged Out||"Sweet and Salty Almond Bark" (a mix of Bittersweet Chocolate, White Chocolate, and Salted Almonds- really yummy!) and my Vegan Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies.||bark - no, cookies - yes||no||US|
|Sabrina of Rhodey Girl Tests||chocolate covered pretzel rods||no||no||anywhere|
|Sarah of Healthy Mom on the Run||Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate Cherry Chip Cookies||no||yes||both|
|Sarah of The Shu Box||California Fruit Bars||no||no||US|
|Shannon of The Daily Balance||white chocolate and milk chocolate oreo bombs, best peanut butter cookies ever (separate)||no||no||both|
|Shannon of Tri to Cook||Seven Layer Cookies||no||no||US|
|Stan||Kickass Brownies Made From Scratch||no||no||US|
|Tasha of The Clean Eating Mama||vegan Lavender Shortbread Cookies||yes||no||both|
|Theresa n/a||Chocolate Butterscotch Oatmeal Chewy Bars||no||no||US|
|TorontoGirloutWest of To Be the Whole Package||vegan whole-wheat banana carob cookies||yes||no||both|
|VeggieGirl of Veggie Girl||Two Batches of her famous vegan blondies - customizable! (auctioned separately separately)||if desired||if desired||US|
|Whit of Whit's Getting Fit||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|You?||Something Delicious||Vegan?||GF?||US, Canada, or both|
Hey, if you want to help but baking isn't your thing, we'll be needing bidders, soon, too! :)
Thank you so much to everyone who's signed up!
If you’d like to support this bake sale (even if you can’t volunteer to bake), please consider adding this banner to your blog to help spread the word.
You can get the code here:
We Can Do It!
I may not be able to go to Haiti to help, and I may not have a zillion dollars to help, but I can do something. I have to believe that everything little bit helps. I believe that our community of bloggers and readers can help together.
Please consider donating something for this bake sale and/or bidding. I truly believe every effort goes to the greater good and that we can make a difference.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I wanted to sleep in this AM but I am apparently not as good at sleeping in as Bailey. Lucky little guy…he sleeps ALL the time!
I woke up earlier than I’d like but with some coffee my mom made.
It wasn’t long before we were getting started on breakfast.
My mom made some Dean Ornish Healthy Blueberry Muffins. I believe this (click) is the same recipe.
While her muffins baked away, I got started prepping some of Giada’s Mini Frittas, except I subbed out the 4 ounces of meat for about 3/4 cup of chopped broccoli.
I still kept the parmesan, though I did think about using cheddar instead.
I made a full batch this time since my mom has two pans and we have more eaters than the last time I made these frittatas (New Years Day).
They puffed up quite big in the oven.
And shrank back down quite quickly once removed from the oven. Hey, it’s the taste that counts, right?
I plated the frittatas on a long rectangular plate and put them in the oven (now off but still warm) to keep them warm – they cool off rather quickly.
Brunch is served….
Fresh orange arranged by my Sis.
Mini egg, parmesan, and broccoli frittatas.
Healthy Blueberry muffins.
Round 1 - a little bit of everything, plus some OJ to drink.
Same oranges, but seconds on frittatas (2 more) plus a half muffin.
I wanted a wee bit more, but I knew we’d be eating lunch not too far off, so I held back.
The muffins were a HIT! So were the frittatas…guess we’ll be seeing more of these later in leftover form.
Our cabinets are currently being painted WHITE! Ahh…I’m so excited to see them all painted up! Hubby and I still need to buy new hardware!
What are you up to today?
Anyone feel like baking something in the next week or two? I’m getting ready to post about a baking-related fundraiser…details to come. :)
With so much work going on in the house (cabinet painting), hubby and I hit the road to visit my family. We left a bit late so I brought a Coconut Pie Larabar to nosh on in the car.
The ride in the new car was super smooth and having XM on in the car definitely made it more pleasant.
Hubby and I made it into town a bit late and missed dinner, but luckily my family always has lots of soup in the freezer. Mom heated up some beef and vegetable soup for us with some Fresh Market wheat rolls.
Mmm mmm good
I managed to save room for dessert (shocking!) and had a wee bit of Silk Chocolate Soy milk (my parents drink more soy milk than I do! what’s up with that?) and a Costco granola bar. Nom nom nom…
I’ve been brainstorming something I think will be great…not a project, but a fundraiser! Details to come…get your baking supplies ready. ;)
Eat in Month Eats - Friday
The sky was beautiful this morning! I love it when it looks all cotton-candy-like!
See our squirrel-y neighbor on our roof?
I cooked up a pot of stove top oats - another round of Cranberry Apple Oats.
Cooked stovetop till thick, about 5 mins
Hemp seeds are the new flax/chia!
Since the cranberries were already sweetened, I decided to not add any extra sweetener. I think I could have used a light drizzle like yesterday's bowl, but it was really just fine without it.
Lunch was a repeat of yesterday
TJ's tofu burger with baby spinach and purple cabbage in a TJ's whole wheat pita.
I scarfed this down whilst working from home and enjoying a phone conference. Thank goodness for mute buttons!
Our contractor came by today to do prep work for a major milestone in our kitchen renovation...
We're having our cabinets painted white! Just like Giada's Everyday Italian Kitchen! Our granite countertops are ordered and so is our tile for the floor. I can't wait to see the final result, but things are pretty messy till then...
Hubby moved our kitchen stuff to other spots in the house.
They started by taking off our cabinet doors.
Unfortunately, the lack of sink and countertops could prove to be a major issue with Eat in Month. Hubby and I are trying to devise ways to work around this, but...it may just not be do-able.
Should we have to eat out due to inability to eat at home, we will be tacking on extra days in February to make up any days we have to skip out on, but I'm really hoping we don't have to miss any!
Hubby and I are headed out of town since there will be so much work going on in the house and we can't really be here while they're painting (they're using one of those spray machines!).
I'll be sure to take lots of photos of the "after" - it's going to look so different! I can't wait to see the painted cabinets!
I feel a bit like I cheated on EIM or something because I was planning to go the whole month without eating out. I wanted to show that it was possible to have date nights and celebrations without eating out. The downside is that I used my pass and ate at a restaurant last night. The upside is that hubby's birthday is later this month, so I still get to show you guys how to celebrate in! ;) (here's an example, too). Ultimately, I decided we should cash in on our cheat pass since 1. it was for a birthday 2. it would be spent with great friends 4. the dinner sounded equally fun + delicious and 3. Kath + Matt are moving this year!
On to the celebrations...
We met our friends at The Liberty - a new local restaurant. Hubby and I almost went here for New Year's Eve...I really wanted to go but we decided to do something more affordable.
In addition to neat dinners (beer and wine dinners, etc) this place also has cooking classes! I am def signing hubby and myself up for classes in the next couple months.
So just for tonight, The Liberty put on a Beer Dinner with NC-based brewery - Big Boss. I love supporting local businesses! (Hubby and I even figured out there are a couple other restaurants in town serving this brew...yay!)
The beer dinner took place in the downstairs room of the restaurant, presumably used for private parties. It was quite cozy down there!
We were greeted with plates of Fresh Angel Biscuits with Benten's Country Ham & Sweet Grass Pimento Cheese being passed around
We got our beer pairing at the bar - Amber Rye. This was one of my faves of the night.
We grabbed some seats and finished our starter course.
The tables were decorated with beer brewing ingredients and Big Boss goodies.
The menu (which was fantastic!)
Kate + Nate
Kath + Matt
Me + Hubby (Thanks photographer Kate!)
After a friendly intro by The Liberty and Big Boss brewery, we got started on the dinner!
(We also got some informative introductions to each beer for each course - I loved learning more about the brews and hearing some of their stories.)
First Round: Roasted Maine Sea Scallops Winter Artichokes, Over-Night Tomatoes & Fregola.
These were amazing! Perfectly cooked! I am picky with my scallop texture and this was just right for me. I loved the side dish, too - very tender.
Beer pairing - Angry Angel.
Nice and light. I enjoyed this brew. I liked it almost as much as I liked the Amber Rye.
Second Course: Coca-Cola Braised Black Berkshire Pork Shoulder Smoked Ham Hock Turnip Greens & Maple-Glazed Apples.
Though it's tough to choose from all the excellent food we had, this was definitely my favorite course! The meat was so tender and all the flavors went perfectly together - from the tender meat, to the turnip greens, to the sweet beets - all with a fabulous beer...
...Bad Penny Brown.
I don't normally like dark beers, but this one was quite tasty - nice and smooth. I would even order it again! Bad Penny ended up being one of my other faves of the night.
I'm not a big drinker, so I started gathering beers pretty quickly. I never did quite manage to finish one round before the next came out, but I had a good time trying.
Third Course: 48hr Roasted Montana Ranch Bison Short Ribs Celery Root Puree, Truffle Jus & Candied Shallots.
The meat here was equally tender as the previous course and had a great flavor. The truffle jus was very strong-smelling but tasted light. I liked the celery root puree, but I loved it more and more as I continued to eat it. Nommmmm...
Beer Pairing - a yeasty Hells Belle. It was a little yeasty for me, but I did enjoy it.
Happy eater...and drinker!
The Big Boss team worked the room and made for some great conversation. It was fun talking to them. They even got interactive and brought over some hops for hubby (future home brewer) to look at. I can't remember exactly, but I believe these are organically grown! Nice!
Aren't these tiny dessert spoons they gave us adorable?
Desserts being served. I love the motion blur in this photo!
(Did you know you can see bigger versions of the photos by clicking on them? You can! Check this ice cream one out - I think it's my favorite photo of the post!)
Fourth course: Decadent Chocolate Sundae Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, Honey Peanuts, Valhrona Ganache & Mashmallow Fluff.
I normally don't love ice cream sundaes but I loved this one! It's not that I don't like ice cream, I'm just more of a cake/pie/cookie/baked-things kinda gal. Anywho, this one had a medley of flavors that melded together so nicely! I was mostly surprised at how much I liked the combo of the sweet ice cream, ganache, and cream with the salty peanuts. I normally do not like sweet and salty combos but I was in heaven enjoying this one. Kath suggested I try salty peanuts on my oatmeal so look for that on a bowl of oats soon! Kate told me they have great salty peanuts at TJ's so I'll be looking for those fo sho!
Even the dessert had a beer pairing: Big Operator, Belgian Black Raspberry. This beer was veeery dark. I liked how the flavor of the raspberry was noticeable but not overpowering.
Wow, hubby and I had an amazing time at The Liberty's first ever Beer Dinner with Big Boss Brewery! The food was wonderful and the beer pairings were quite tasty. All around awesome! Hubby and I are even considering going to The Liberty's next beer dinner in February! We'll definitely be looking for Big Boss brews at other restaurants in the region, too!
Happy birthday, Matt!
Thanks to a long day yesterday, I am behind on posting! :)
I will make Thursday's day time eats quick.
Eat in Month Challenge is still going well. I've really been enjoying meals in and it definitely hasn't been as hard as I expected it to be.
On Thursday, my day was challenging because of work. I had 9 hours of conference calls (plus 1 hour of office time). Ay yay yay! Makes for a long day!
Apple-Cranberry Oats with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon, coffee, Morningstar "sausage".
Hot green tea with sugar.
I tried something new today for lunch. I heated up another Trader Joe's
It reminded me a tad of falafel (flavor wise). I loved it!
Snack - Clif Kid ZBar in Honey Graham.
By the end of the day I felt like a ZOMBIE! 9 hours of phone conferences is a bit much for one day, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get the job done! :)
I was hoping to post all this yesterday after work, but my 5pm meeting ended at 6pm instead of 5:30 like I had hoped. I had to rush-rush-rush home and get ready for a special dinner! A dinner OUT!
Yep, I cashed in on my Eat in Month pass last night! More to come...
Not that it's all that complicated, but my secret fabric project was...
DLSR Camera Strap Covers!
Mostly this project was secret because the gift recipients also read my blog and that would be a total spoiler if they read about their gift before receiving it.
As this post is being shared with RSS feeds, I am giving the last two of these DSLR Camera Strap Covers away. And there's one for some lucky winner out there, too!
I'll be doing a tutorial at some point, but basically, this project involved lots of:
Fabric selection and shopping
and then more ironing.
Since all my foodie friends roll in couples and within the last year they've all gotten Canon Rebels, too, I thought semi-matching camera strap covers would be a fun gift.
There is a matching fabric side that is guy-friendly (ok, it's sort of girly, but at least it's not floral!)
The other side is a coordinating pattern - this is the girl-friendly side.
By having two types of sides, I'm hoping each person per couple can take turns carrying the camera comfortably. The girls can wear the strap pretty-side up and the guys can turn the strap to the green side if they don't want the pink/floral/girly one showing.
I made one for myself, too. Mine was the prototype. I figured I'd the first production since the first version of something usually the worst (the one where you learn mistakes and figure out how to improve).
But the best part for you dear readers...
I made an extra one!
If you would like to win this floral and mod patterned, handmade DSLR Camera Strap cover reinforced with fusible lining and made with beautiful Heather Bailey fabric, you have a few ways to enter:
Each entry must be in a separate comment to count. Winner will be selected a week from today - Wednesday, Jan. 21th, 2010. The winner will randomly be selected.
PS This strap is approximately 2 1/2 " wide and 25" long. You could possibly use it for other straps, not just DSLR straps. ;)
So much to cover and so sleepy already! I don't know about you, but I've been staying up later and later it seems! I have plans to change this by getting organized and getting on schedule (yes, I'm planning a new challenge!) but in the meantime, I will suffer with lack of sleep.
For breakfast I made Pumpkin Apple Oats with organic canned pumpkin, chopped apple, apple butter, molasses, milk, extra thick oats, flaxseed, pecans and extra apple on top (no extra sweetener!)
It was pretty good, but I'm still craving more of that coconut milk pumpkin oatmeal! Boy was it good!
I escaped my desk for 15 minutes to grab a very quick lunch with a co-worker. I saw the sun! (my cubicle is not near a window and the windows seem to be tinted making it always feel a bit dark...which I dislike since I love natural sunlight so much). I had leftover 3, 2, 1 veggie soba noodles, apple (from breakfast) and water.
Post work, I played elf and passed out some last-minute Christmas gifts. Two down...two to go!
Post-gift-giving, hubby and I stopped by some friends' apartment - hubby's bachelor friends' apt, that is. They were having a true bachelor dinner - 2 lean cuisines topped with some frozen grilled chicken with a side of toast with parkay.
Meanwhile, I went home and prepared a pizza for me and hubby to enjoy. I got another pizza dough from Trader Joe's (can't beat 99 cents!) but I got the white dough this time. I love my whole grains but sometimes white is just better. I wanted to test the TJ's doughs out to see.
Following a reader tip by Biz of Biggest Diabetic Loser, I pre-baked my crust for 5 minutes (I just did it at 350 though since that was the baking temp of the pizza). The tip worked pretty well but probably would have been better if I had followed the complete tip which was to pre-bake the crust for 6 minutes at 425. Thanks for the tip Biz!
We weren't planning on having pizza so soon but we had leftover sauce and the TJ's stuff doesn't last very long thanks to their lack of preservatives (which I appreciate)
I did our usual toppings - 1/2 cheese and 1/2 pepperoni with pizza seasonings. I added a bit of parmesan to the cheese this time since we had some in the fridge.
I prepped a salad for me and hubby so we could get a good veggie serving (or two).
I think purple cabbage is so pretty.
This discarded leaf in my garbage bag (gotta start that compost!) even looks pretty - the way it goes from vibrant purple to green.
The pizza was done in a snap.
Mmmm...piiiizzzzaaaa (channeling Homer Simpson)
But before we dug into our pizza we dug into our salads - aren't they colorful!?
Salads: baby spinach, purple cabbage (organic), red pepper, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and Drew's rosemary balsamic dressing (which they are no longer selling at Fresh Market! As if!)
I started with a slice of pepperoni and cheese, each.
We had a little vino with dinner.
Seconds - another slice of cheese.
I think the secret to getting that from-your-local-pizza-place taste is the cornmeal on the bottom. I spread cornmeal thinly over my pizza stone and it gave the crust a nice texture and helped prevent it from sticking to the stone.
As part of my plan to get on a regular schedule, I'd like to start going to bed and waking up earlier. I know I've declared the desire to do this before, but I didn't really make a concerted effort. I'm hoping to do better this time around. And, I'm hoping this Get Some zzz's Tea from The Republic of Tea will help. It was a little expensive and I'm not sure if it will actually work, but even if it's mind over matter and works like a placebo, I don't care as long as it gets me in bed and asleep faster!
Secret fabric post revealed tomorrow and a giveaway for my DSLR friends!
So, probably not that many of you are actually dying to know what my latest secret project is, but I'm gonna announce it like it's special because it's special to me. :)
For the next several weeks, I will be taking...
Oh yes...I've been wanting to take photography lessons for the last several (I can't believe I've had to wait this long) years.
As a quick photography-love recap:
So, on the one hand, photography classes been a long time coming, and I wish I would have done things sooner. On the other, having waited so long and worked so hard for my equipment and the opportunity to do these photography classes, I feel like I really, really, really appreciate them.
I knew class would be going pretty late tonight so I fueled up with a Kashi TLC Honey Almond Flax granola bar. I love these bars, but I may have to have a bigger snack and lighter dinner so I'm not quite so hungry in class. I was able to pay attention in class, but I did notice I was pretty hungry.
I wasn't sure what to expect our first day...or for any of the classes really. Last week I received an email with some welcome info and a class packet PDF. I printed out the PDF and boy was there a lot of technical-looking stuff on there! (At first glance at least). I wondered if the class would be fun, would the instructor be nice, would I learn a lot?
Well, I can say after completing my first class that all my expectations and hopes were happily met. We have a friendly group of students, a gem of an instructor (who gives great examples that really help me understand the concepts), and yes...I've already learned a lot (in one class!).
Today, for Week 1, we learned about some basic functions of the camera - Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO and how these affect Exposure.
We learned how to adjust these functions on our cameras and how adjusting these affected our photos.
My favorite trick I learned today was controlling the aperture. By learning how aperture works and how I can adjust it, I now know how to increase and decrease the blurry backgrounds seen so commonly in food and product photography. Since most of my photos are food-related, I find this especially helpful. I would like to grow my photography skills outside of food, though...I'd love to do portraits, action shots, and especially some nature photos! I love taking pictures of everything really!
Here are some practice photos I took using my new aperture skills:
Same camera, same lens, totally different photos! I used to think the lens made a big difference in how my photos came out. Now I'm learning that I can control, much more than I originally expected, how my photos look.
There's no way I can recap what I learned in today's class in a blog post, but here are some starter tips:
We took some practice shots in class and even got assigned homework. I know most people don't get excited when they hear "homework" but I learn best when I'm hands-on, so I really think the homework assignments will help me improve and grow. I left class super pumped and excited about photography.
I can't wait to learn more! Week 2 class won't get here soon enough! :)
I know there's so much more to learn and so much more I want to do with photography.
Here are some photography goals I have (big and small, in the near and far future):
I'm sure some more goals will pop into my head since you guys know I'm a pretty goal-oriented person, but this is a nice start.
Did I mention I was excited about my photography classes yet? I am SO EXCITED!
Hubby was in charge of dinner tonight and had it nearly ready for me by the time I got home.
Parmesan-Dijon Chicken with scalloped potatoes and a veggie medley with some Moscato (thanks Megan!) to drink.
I used to LOVE these scalloped potatoes but today I just thought they were pretty good. They were a little too margarine-y tasting. Now, the chicken hubby prepared was DELISH! I can see this being a new staple chicken dinner in our house. The veggie side was basic - just frozen veggies zapped in the microwave with a tiny dab of organic butter.
What a great dinner to come home to?! Nice work hubby!
I had a couple pieces of dark chocolate for dessert. SImple but hit the spot!
In other news, Fab's Guest Post on Budgeting has me thinking...you know, it's been over 10 years since I've been to France and I'd really like to go back. Like...this year...go back. I'm gonna do some research but if things work out, I'm hoping to go to France for my 30th birthday! Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to celebrate?!
I want to hit up the patisseries, visit my exchange family (or families), find some neat shops, visit some interesting restaurants, hit up some tourist spots, maybe even take cooking classes or visit the farmers markets (something outside of the box). I'm excited, but I need your help!
Does any one have any tips on how to go to France affordably? Any recommendations on Bed & Breakfasts or unique restaurants or shopping or anything to visit?! HELP!
I think I've discovered a new love to go with my oatmeal in addition to my new fave seed (hemp seeds!):
Oatmeal + Coconut Milk = Freakin Delicious!
I had some coconut milk leftover from my vegan Banana Cream Pancakes I made this weekend, so I figured, what the heck, why not throw it into my oats this morning?
I've used coconut milk to make a Filipino dessert (sweet rice!) that I absolutely love, so I knew I'd be a fan...I didn't know how much!
I used about 1/2 coconut milk for liquid along with 1/2 regular milk. The coconut milk gave a nice tropical flavor to the bowl It was fabulous!
Cooked stove top for about 5 minutes
I had more black tea with cream and sugar before lunch at work. Sooo good!
I had leftover 3, 2, 1 Veggie Noodles for lunch. Not only do I like tofu because it's affordable and easy to prepare, but unlike meats (which IMO taste funny re-heated esp when microwaved) tofu tastes like it did the first time. Upon re-heating, tofu is a bit more soft, but I don't mind it.
I was like a kid before Christmas the last hour of work because I was so excited about my secret project.
Up next, secret project (the non-fabric one) revealed.
But first, did you check out the most-awesome Budget 101 Guest Post by Fabulously Broke in the City? If you are looking to save money for 2010, if you set budget resolutions this year or if you just want to take a fabulous trip afar (hmm...this is sounding tempting *wink wink*), this post will knock your socks off. The best part? It's Part 1 of a 3 part series!
Hot black tea with cream and sugar is quickly becoming my fave drink of the day! It's so good!
With the weather being so cold lately, I feel like I'm finally starting to succumb. I don't feel sick, but I have that tired, run-down, if you don't take care of yourself you're gonna get sick kinds of feelings going on. So, I grabbed an Emergen-C in a new flavor - Acai Berry. It's berrylicious! Seriously, I think this is my new Emergen-C flavor.
I had a fabulous frozen meal for lunch. I know I said I was reserving these frozen meals for emergencies, but we don't normally get lunch meat for sandwiches till Monday at the earlier and Great Harvest doesn't open till Tuesday, so I sometimes have a hard time making sandwiches early on in the week and those are my go-to work lunch staple!
I actually wasn't really too interested in planning food for lunch today because I really wanted to dig into one of these frozen meals!
Click here to read my review of my Savory Turkey frozen meal. I really enjoyed it!
I tried eating this TJ's Greek Style yogurt, but it tasted kind of funny. If you've ever had a bad case of food poisoning (which I have), you tend to not risk it with foods that taste "off."
I left work a bit early for a dentist appointment. I have a cavity! Ugh! I have to go back for drilling (waaaa!) in a couple weeks. But, you know what that means? Ice cream! My mom always got me milkshakes and ice cream after cavity fill-ins when I was growing up. I sort of associate the two now.
Post work, I normally head to workout with my zumba friends, but since my leg was bugging me all week, I decided that though it was feeling almost back to normal today it was best to not risk it pushing myself too hard too fast too soon.
Instead, hubby and I went faucet shopping! Did I mention we've ordered our granite countertops and tile for our floors? Well, we have! We're getting a new faucet, too...once we pick out one. We found a nice high-arc faucet tonight we think we're gonna get with one water lever, a spray nozzle (on a separate attachment) and a soap dispenser. It's pretty awesome.
Though I didn't get to go to zumba class tonight, my most-awesome zumba friends still came over for dinner so I still got my QT in with them!
One of my zumba friends is pescatarian, and I've been telling my other zumba friends how much I enjoy eating tofu, so I decided to whip up one of my personal faves - 3, 2, 1 Vegetarian Noodles (click for recipe)! It's so tasty and so simple takes only about 5-6 minutes of cooking time and is packed full of great foods. It was the perfect Meatless Monday meal!
Though our house is a bit of a wreck thanks to our kitchen reno, I attempted to make the dining room semi presentable.
My friend Kat played photographer while I cooked, so many of these photos are by her! Thanks girlie!
Nice motion blur!
Cooking away....tofu and onions
Big pot of soba noodles and veggies - kale, broccoli and green beans.
Cooking in my PJ's...oh yea!
Stacy and Kat brought some whole wheat baguettes and dessert!
I sliced one baguette, drizzled it with EVOO and broiled it till just toasty in the oven.
Megan brought some Moscato for us to enjoy with dinner (and Magic Shell to go with dessert).
Aww...aren't Bailey and Megan cute?! Bailey loves his zumba friends!
The girls :)
The girls loved the tofu...thank goodness because this meal was much harder to make in a larger batch! lol.
Seconds for me.
And let's not forget dessert! Breyer's All Natural Triple Chocolate Ice Cream with Smuckers Magic Shell.
Thanks to my zumba friends, Mondays are one of my favorite days of the week! I used to somewhat dread Mondays (the start of the work week!) but now I look forward to them! Thanks girls!
Check back tomorrow for a special GUEST POST by budget expert Fabulously Broke in the City!
Let me start this review by mentioning that I purchased this meal and yes...with my money. I am not being paid for this review. I just thought other people may find the information helpful.
Ok, so now that that's out of the way, let's get to the review! :)
I first noticed this Organic Bistro Savory Turkey frozen meal when I was pantry shopping for emergency lunch meals to keep at work for Eat in Month. I noticed that though this product wasn't even on sale, it was nearly sold out in this flavor. I figured it must be pretty good. And anyways, turkey is one of the things I normally like in frozen meals.
I also couldn't believe that this meal came with a side of lentil-quinoa pilaf. What?! How awesome! I've never seen lentils OR quinoa in a frozen meal. The green beans veggie side was pretty cool, too. I do like my veggies.
I enjoyed reading the little story on the back. If a holistic doctor created Organic Bistro Whole Life Meals, they must be pretty good. I feel like a holistic doctor would be more inclined to make their products as nutritious as possible.
The ingredient list was impressive:
This meal is also a Gluten Free frozen dinner (or lunch).
This frozen meal can be prepared in the microwave or conventional oven (but not toaster oven - trust me, I thought about it since you guys know I don't like microwaves, but it says no toaster ovens on the box or I woulda tried!).
Upon first bite, I thought the flavor was a tad on the bland side. I guess it did only have 240 mg of sodium. So, I added a sprinkling of salt, which really helped bring the flavor out. I was glad I was able to add the amount of salt I wanted instead of the sauce being already too salty.
The green beans ended up a bit on the over-cooked side but I was relieved they weren't doused in an overly salty or heavy sauce. The turkey was pretty tender, the sauce was nice and light, and the lentil-quinoa was GREAT and ever-so-slightly spicy!
Overall, the Organic Bistro in Savory Turkey was a frozen meal WIN! I normally am not a fan of frozen meals, but this one is made with real food, mostly organic, and has a good nutritional panel. I thought the flavor was overall quite nice, I was happy the ingredient list was readable, I loved the unique ingredients (quinoa!), and that I felt great after eating it. I will definitely be buying more of this frozen meals!
I have a couple more frozen dinners I'm looking forward to trying, including some from Kashi and Helen's Kitchen.
What is your favorite frozen meal (brand and flavor)?
I was really looking forward to leftover vegan Banana Cream pancakes this morning and you guys know I do NOT like leftovers!
To reheat my vegan pancakes, I pre-heated the oven to 300 degrees F, then put the pancakes on a baking sheet and baked them till they were heated through - just a couple minutes since the pancakes are so thin. So much better than microwaved pancakes!
I heated up some real maple syrup with some Earth Balance for a buttery sweet dipping sauce.
To cut the sweetness, I had a Morningstar "sausage" on the side. Mmm...pancakes, syrup, "sausage"...YUM! Gooooood Morning Monday!
What did you have for breakfast today?
After my most-delicious vegan Banana Cream Pancakes breakfast, I took a moment this afternoon to relax.
I brewed some hot tea and read my books.
I started in on All New Square Foot Gardening. I want to take my time reading this book, so I only started the first chapter. I can't wait to dig into the how-to's on getting the garden set-up and actually starting to plant!
I also read a new chapter on Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. I'm still planning to read about one chapter per week. Though the chapters are short - only about a page worth of content - I'd really take the time to digest each chapter. I intend to read and possibly re-read each chapter and take my time processing what I learned over the week.
I'm currently on Chapter 2 - Make Peace with Imperfection. This chapter seems especially fitting with all the work and incompleteness of the house. From the book - "Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now." Though it's driving me crazy to not have furniture or all our curtains up or a finished kitchen, I still feel extremely blessed to even have a house.
Yogi tea quote - "Practice kindness, mercy and forgiveness."
Lunch was pretty random. I have some fresh produce that will be going bad soon and some deli cheese that was on its last legs.
So, I made cheesy toast in the broiler, a big romaine based salad with broccoli, carrots, and sunflower seeds, and a side of vegetarian baked beans.
Lunch dessert - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookie.
More fabric fun today. Still TOP SECRET....sorry!
I spent 3 lovely hours in our guest room (currently functioning as my sewing room) singing away to Tori Amos and sewing away with pretty fabrics. It was lovely!
I had plans to go to the grocery store to stock up the pantry some more, but I got so carried away sewing, it was time for dinner by the time I was done. Hubby was kind enough to go out to get some cheese so we could make PIZZA!
Now, you guys know hubby and I are BIG pizza fans. We are definitely missing not being able to visit our fave pizza shop, but we still plan to enjoy pizza, Eat in Month or not!
Our meal was nearly a $5 meal. The pepperonis put us over. But the meal was still super affordable. We got the pizza dough from TJ's for 99 cents and hubby got the cheese buy one get one free. Score!
I spread corn meal out on my Pampered Chef pizza stone (which I love btw) to get that pizza shop texture.
I used my rolling pin to first shape the dough, then move it.
Pizza toppings - sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni
Whole wheat crust
1/2 cheese and 1/2 pepperoni with pizza seasonings - just like we like it.
Not too shabby eh?
Check out our Valentine's themed kitchen towels. It's not too early for Valentine's Day...right?
Romaine salad with organic baby carrot, sunflower seeds, and Drew's Rosemary Balsamic dressing.
I started with a slice of pepperoni and a slice of cheese.
Followed by a second slice of pepperoni.
Overall the pizza was super easy to put together and pretty darn tasty too. I wish the crust would have risen some more. It was rather dense in the middle and the crust never popped up. Buuut, on the other hand for 99 cents, it was pretty darn good. The sauce was nice and simple.
Overall, pizza win!
I re-baked a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie in the oven to make it taste oven-fresh. It was pretty good, but I think I added too much flour when I baked these up...it tastes more like a mookie (muffin + cookie) than a cookie. lol
Ahh...secret fabric project and other top secret project starting Tuesday. SOOOOOOOO much to tell you guys! Can't wait!
Anyone doing anything interesting this week?
How are my Eat in Month participants doing? Post links to your eats in the comments - I'd love to see what creative eat-in foods you're concocting!
After staying up too late last night, I woke up groggy but HUNGRY! I had no idea what to make. I was kind of feeling like making something that didn't take much effort but I also wanted to make something I normally don't have time to make during the week.
Mornings like these, I also like to make a trip to a local bagel or coffee shop for a slow-paced breakfast with a latte and some of my fave mags. But, thanks to Eat in Month, I was determined to stay in.
After remembering all the fabulous Eat Drink and Be Vegan recipes I've been wanting to try, I decided to go for the ED&BV Banana Cream Pancakes.
Thanks to my well-stocked pantry, I had all of the ingredients on hand. Even the spelt flour (which is quickly becoming my favorite flour to use - tastes like regular but so much more nutritious!). I love how light and fluffy spelt flour is.
Thanks to the hand-blender I got at Christmas, whipping this up was a snap! I sort of wanted to use my pretty new Martha Stewart stand mixer, but the immersion blender is just so much easier to clean.
Not to mention since our kitchen is a bit of a disaster, I haven't opened my new small appliances since there's not really anywhere to put them yet!
We still don't have a griddle so it took awhile to cook all the pancakes in my tiny non-stick skillet. I kept them warm in the oven on 200 degrees F while I worked through the batter.
Real maple syrup on top.
Breakfast is served!
A sprinkling of organic unsweetened coconut on top staying in line with the tropical pancake theme.
My banana cream pancakes ended up a little on the thin side, but the flavor was great! Hubby said they tasted like gourmet pancakes.
The pancakes were nice and tender and I loved the subtle tropical tastes. And these were made with SPELT! Such a great flour! If you haven't tried it yet, you should!
Want a bite?
Coffee on the side - 1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme (Fresh Market).
Bailey sleeping on the chaise.
Sunlight streaming into my sunroom. Food TV on in the background. Perfect Sunday afternoon.
Me thinks I may brew up some hot tea to sip on whilst reading a new chapter of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and Square Foot Gardening.
How's your Sunday?
I had a pretty productive afternoon Saturday.
I got caught up working on some stuff on my computer, so lunch was pretty lame - leftover mac and cheese and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies from the other day.
I worked on a fabric project in the afternoon. I thought I'd be able to complete said project pretty quickly, but it ended up taking me twice as long as I expected!
Mums the word on this project for now. More to come. ;)
Hubby and I were invited to a neighbor's birthday cookout. Our first neighborly event...yay! :)
We brought some Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Carolina Pale Ale.
There were tons of fun people there and even some adorable babies and toddlers.
It seems like the last several months of get-togethers have mostly been with my foodie friends, where food photography is the norm. Last night, I was the only one interested in taking pictures of my food, but I went ahead and took a handful of photos.
I snacked on some pimento cheese from Earthfare (my fave grocery store!)
There were tons of great eats! There were plenty of snacks in addition to the main eats: Homemade burgers, cole slaw, baked beans.
I had a little bit of everything.
I added some tater tots when those came out of the oven.
Ahhh....my fave....birthday cake!
My neighbor made this cake with her mother's recipe for Dark Chocolate Cake. Yum! Aren't family recipes the best?
Drink of choice - Carolina Pale Ale...in a sparkly red coozie no less!
We had some recorded skits, football, basketball, and a recording on how marbles are made from Dirty Jobs for entertainment.
I may or may not have hit up the snack bowls/dips/chips and birthday cake. ;)
Post party, we all headed out to a local bar where I stayed up waaaay too late. But we had a good time, so it was totally worth it!
Cheers to new friends!
Did I mention I think I re-hurt my leg this past week? Yea. Sucks. Big time!
I was hoping it would feel better this morning, but alas...it didn't. So, I'm trying to rest it today...currently icing.
Though my leg hurt and I was sleepy, I woke up and did a bit of cleaning up in the kitchen. Just hand-washed some dishes in the sink and wiped down the countertops.
Then, it was breakfast time!
I cracked open a new jar of Barney Butter! Nothing better than the first scoop, no?
1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme. I'm kind of over the Christmas flavors, but I want to finish them. I'm hoping for new Fresh Market flavors to arrive soon!
I decided to make some TCL Power Toast for breakfast.
What's Power Toast? Power Toast is a powerhouse of nutrition...on toast.
I started with a slice of Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat bread, which I toasted under the broiler in the oven (yea, we still don't have a toaster...we haven't found one we like!)
Power Toast Toppings:
So so good!
Lots to do today, but my leg is making me re-consider.
What are you up to today?
I took my first photo with my new camera last night. I couldn't think of anything better than my dear doggie Bailey.
I love my point and shoot, but it's so good to have my DSLR back!
It was supposed to snow today, but when I woke up...NO SNOW! For my winter weather-land friends, you're probably wondering why anyone would be excited about snow, right? I live in the South! We rarely get snow, so we get pretty excited about it! :)
I was determined to see flurries, so I made them appear in my breakfast in the form of organic unsweetened coconut flakes.
Today's secret ingredient - molasses! To give my oats a depth of flavor.
Cook stovetop about 5 minutes.
I worked from home today, which was nice. I had plenty of OT this week and got started early enough to take a couple breaks to photograph some work our contractor and team was doing on our kitchen today.
They started to rip up the floor that was under our old linoleum.
There was another layer!
They covered up our old kitchen cabinets with plastic wrap. They also covered the fridge and microwave and moved the stove out of the room.
As a result, I couldn't get to my FOOD!
(Oh and other frustration - one of our cabinets arrived but was BROKEN! Grr....we had to return it and I can only hope it doesn't take another 5 weeks for the replacement cabinet to get here.)
I would have just gotten a sandwich or something from a local deli, but not THIS month. Not while I'm doing the Eat in Month challenge!
Be forewarned...I do not recommend the following for lunch...I just couldn't get to anything else!
I had two slices of Great Harvest honey whole wheat bread. Plain. Straight outta the bag. Yup. I did. I love bread. I mean I LOVE bread! I like it any way I can get it...even just plain when it's fresh and tender. mmmm This bread is pretty nutritious, too!
I also had a Larabar in Peanut Butter Cookie to get some protein to go along with those carbs.
By the end of the day, we had a lovely new sub-floor. Our tiles will be going on top of this.
I had actually really been looking forward to leftover mac and cheese for lunch but moved those plans to dinner instead.
We had our veggies raw - salad form: organic romaine, broccoli, cauliflower, organic baby carrot, orange pepper, sunflower seeds, HEMP SEEDS, and balsamic dressing.
I wish I had some leftover bean salad to put on this!
Fo the rest of dinner, we just cooked up a frozen TJ's meatless corn dog and re-heated some mac and cheese in the oven.
Did I mention we had mac and cheese? Mmm...so good!
After dinner, I had a hankering for something sweet.
I did a play on Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip cookies, since I liked the recipe from earlier this week so much.
I decided to make my cookies with some of that organic canned pumpkin to make Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I also had to sub brown rice syrup for the maple syrup. This made the batter super sticky and a bit harder to work with, but the end result was still nice. Not quite as sweet...just as delicious.
I did two batches (well, I dropped 1/2 the cookies and then adjusted the remaining) - one with slightly more flour (because the batter wasn't as thick as when I made it the other day).
I tried one of each batch, mais oui. They actually tasted the same and had nearly the same texture. I think the batch with less flour just didn't poof up as much.
They were both delicious! I wish I woulda put more pumpkin in, though! Ahh...I know for next time.
I think I need to tweak the adapted recipe before I post it.
Man, I am quite the Cookie Monster lately, no?!
I enjoyed my cookies with wine...and hubby and I watched The Ugly Truth. I thought it was a tad vulgar but pretty funny overall.
I signed up for something super awesome starting up next week. So excited! Details next Tuesday! :)
What's your favorite comedy from 2009?
So guys, turns out my DSLR is gone forever...but let's start with breakfast before I get into that story...
Hubby and I picked up Honey Whole Wheat bread from Great Harvest yesterday. Whenever I get fresh bread, I CAN'T WAIT to dig in!
So, I toasted some up this AM
and topped it with Barney Butter and white chia seeds.
Lunch: toasted chicken sammie with harvarti on my delicious Honey WW bread with a side of microwave-steamed mixed veggies. I didn't microwave the veggies long - just 30 seconds...long enough to make them a tad tender. I just seasoned them with salt.
After lunch, my sweet tooth kicked in. Luckily, I took the rest of my vegan chocolate chip cookies to work today and had one set aside to eat myself. I enjoyed my cookie with black tea with cream and sugar. Mmm...
I gave the rest of the cookies to my co-workers. I simply offered "homemade chocolate chip cookies." After they said how good they were, I told them they were VEGAN! One of my co-workers asked what the difference between a "vegan" and "vegetarian" was, but we were able to explain. I forget how uncommon some of the terms and lifestyles and foods are in the real world" compared to the "blog world." Anywho, I also explained that I made my cookies with 1/2 white-wheat flour and 1/2 spelt flour. I also emailed a link to some additional info on Spelt (click for info), and I think my co-worker may try to bake some spelt bread. Neat, no?!
One of my co-workers only took 1/2 a cookie. The other 1/2 stared me down in my cubicle until...yep...I ate it! It was delish. I need to make these cookies again SOON. They were so easy and tasty! I also like that you can make these cookies even if you're out of milk or eggs because they're vegan and don't use either!
In camera news, I turned my camera in to Geek Squad to be fixed on Dec 20th and it was shipped off. On Dec 22 it was assigned a repair technician. As of this week, I had zero updates. Grr. I checked the online "status update" on geeksquad.com using my repair ID almost every other day to no avail.
On Jan 5, 2010, I decided to call the Geek Squad to see if they could get an update. They said they'd email the 3rd party company they use to fix the cameras (Precision Camera in my case) to request an update. I was very nice (no need to be that PO'ed customer who freaks out - that's not cool) and the Geek Squad agent was very friendly. I felt a bit relieved after calling.
On Jan 6, 2010, I still hadn't heard anything and the online status hadn't been updated, so I checked in again. Again, I was very nice and so was the Geek Squad agent. They checked the system but didn't have any updates.
On Jan 7, 2010 (today), I checked the status online and it said: Needs customer info - please contact Geek Squad. At first reading, I was a tad PO'ed. I thought maybe they'd let my camera sit around for a couple weeks and just now figured out they needed more info. So, I called Geek Squad again and again was quite nice and friendly and really just wanted to get whatever info to them they needed to move things along. The agent checked the system and said...my camera was being "junked" and that they were going to give me a replacement!
So, the bad news is that my original DSLR is gone forever (I hope they are able to salvage it and sell it as a re-built camera or something)
The good news is that I got a new camera! I had to pay a little extra because of a price guarantee refund we received on the original camera, to update the Geek Squad Protection Plan, and because I decided to get the XSi this time!
There were some features I liked better on the XSi than the XS I had before (more MP, more auto-focus points, larger LCD, etc) so I decided it was worth it.
I got my battery charging while I worked on dinner....
I used some Hodgson Mill whole wheat elbow pasta to make my Dad's Mac and Cheese (still perfecting the recipe but hope to post it soon!)
I couldn't find any bread crumbs so I used toasted wheat germ as a bread crumb substitute. It was a darn good substitute! It reminded me of a finer panko.
I used earth balance to help the top of the mac and cheese brown on top.
To go with the mac and cheese, I also heated up a Trader Joe's Organic Tofu Veggie Burger. I wondered how to cook this veggie burger since it didn't have cooking instructions, but I figured I'd just cook it like I do the others - either pan-seared or roasted. I decided to roast it and broiled each side for just a couple minutes.
I also microwave-steamed some frozen veggies and added a tad of real butter for flavor.
Dad's mac and cheese was ready before I knew it!
The mac and cheese was, of course, delicious!
The veggie burgers were pretty good and certainly easy to heat up. They reminded me a bit of marinated tofu - dark with marinade on the outside and lighter inside. The texture was a bit different than tofu.
Seconds on Mac and cheese!
Just after dinner, my camera battery was charged!
It's go time baby!
I'm being very gentle with my new camera. I'm so scared of anything going wrong with it now! lol I can't wait to try out my macro lens on this puppy, though!
How's everyone doing with their resolutions? If you need exercise motivation, check out this post.
Eat in Month - Day #6
Slept in today...doh!
I talked hubby into eating some stove top oats with me this AM.
In my bowl: oats, skim milk, canned organic pumpkin, flaxseeds, pecans, HEMP SEEDS, unsweetened organic coconut, and I tossed in some ricotta leftover from our lasagna earlier this week (gotta get rid of it somehow!)
I stirred my bowl together to distribute the ricotta and make the oatmeal creamy, like how you can make a tomato sauce creamy with ricotta stirred in.
Eating in was pretty easy today thanks to early prep work with my salad last night and leftover lasagna.
Leftover veggie lasagna, toast, salad with organic romaine, broccoli, orange bell pepper, organic carrot and hemp seeds.
Afternoon snack: black tea with cream and sugar and Moravian cookies!
After work, hubby and I headed out to look at granite and tile (yes, again!). The meeting was much more productive than I thought it would be and we got some good quotes. I hope we can make some decision soon because I'm ready for this kitchen to be DONE!
I've spent quite a bit of money amping up our pantry, so hubby suggested we eat from our pantry/freezer for dinner. I kind of wanted to find a use for that leftover ricotta and parmesan before it goes bad, but I wasn't really in the mood for Italian (can you blame me after 4 back to back meals of lasagna! lol)
After a long day of work and then spending a couple hours with the granite/tile people, I really wasn't feeling much like cooking. In fact, all I could think about was pizza...pizza...pizza....let's go pick up pizza. lol
Buuut, knowing I had some food I could cook with little effort and wanting to stick to my Eat in Month Challenge kept me thinking about the yummy food I had at home.
We broke out our unopened tartar sauce to eat with...
TJ's Battered Cod...and TJ's sweet potato fries, steamed veggie medley and some syrah.
After dinner, I had a hankering for something SWEET! I decided to check out Dreena's Eat Drink and Be Vegan Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies (click for recipe). I used 1/2 TJ's white-wheat flour and 1/2 spelt flour with a bit extra spelt flour (around 1 tbsp). I also didn't quite have 1/3 cup of non-dairy chocolate chips, so I added some carob chips to make up the difference.
They came together SO easily and were done SO quickly! While my cookies baked, I cleaned up a bit in the ktichen...next thing I know, BING, they were ready!
My cookies went perfectly with my vino.
Holy wow, were these GOOD! Even hubby liked them! We both enjoyed them like they were regular chocolate chip cookies, but they were VEGAN!
I can't wait to try more of Dreena's vegan recipes!
Aaaaand, I may or may not have eaten a second cookie. Nom nom nom!
Remember this room? Here's what it looked like when we bought our house. Oh the wood paneling!
It went to this...missing walls, no wood paneling....no drywall.
It looked like this for a long time - drywall, kneewall, unpainted. Unfinished.
Well, after waiting several weeks on our new cabinets (ones we're adding, not replacing), we're finally ready to continue!
Today, our contractor stopped by while I was at work and removed the knee wall (turns out we don't need it), patched thew wall, and took out the icky linoleum.
Yup, no linoleum. I like linoleum...just not that one. It was a bit too busy for my style.
Now, in the kitchen, we just need to:
Not sure when any of this will be completed, but I'm really looking forward to getting some more cabinet space! I can't wait to get things organized!
Oh, still collecting ways to squash the "I'm too tired to work out" excuse to help motivate others to keep their resolutions and get to the gym. Click here to help out.
Sleepy time!Which do you like better on your kitchen floor - tile or linoleum/vinyl?
Squash a Workout Excuse
A few weeks ago, I tweeted asking for your excuses you use when you want to skip a workout. I had a reason... :)
Did you make fitness/exercise resolutions for 2010 like:
No matter your fitness level or goals, sometimes, we all need a little help sticking to our fitness/exercise resolutions and routines. While we can be somewhat or even very motivated to reach our goals, life happens, we get busy, and often, we start to make excuses that we use to skip workouts or training sessions.
I thought it would be fun to try to help brainstorm ways to squash common workout excuses by featuring one excuse per week, offering some personal tips to counter those exercise excuses, and asking you guys (yes you!) to post comments with additional tips. I'm hoping these tips help people stick to their fitness resolutions, and I'm hoping to learn some new tips to use, myself!
Week 1 Excuse to Squash
Here's an excuse I've used many times myself: "I don't have time to workout"
Here's what I say to squash this excuse:
What would you say to counter this excuse? Leave a comment! :)
In addition to the excuse-squashing, I thought it would be neat to start up a twitter support group that people could use to help motivate each other to workout. I'm calling it "Fit Crew" and using twitter tag #fitcrew.
I was thinking people could use the twitter tag #fitcrew to both ask for motivation and give motivation.
If you're feeling tired and don't want to do your scheduled workout, you could tweet something like, "Worked 9 hours today without a lunch break. Feeling too tired to workout. Help #fitcrew!"
If you're feeling pumped about working out and want to help motivate others to exercise, you could look for those asking for help and tweet back to them encouraging words like "@thechiclife - you can do it! #fitcrew"
For example, I just ran a search for "too tired to workout" on twitter (click for results) and there are TON of people tweeting this! What if we helped each other motivate each other to workout? How awesome would that be to help people make their workouts, brighten their moods, and get fit?!
This could be a horrible idea. Maybe no one will use it? But, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. :)
It's been too long...this morning, I was really looking forward to...
I used organic canned pumpkin and Manitoba Harvest shelled hemp seeds!
Hemp seeds: These hemp seeds are the bomb! They are a source of Omega 3, contain all 10 essential amino acids and are a great source of protein - about 11g per 2 tbsp!
Also in the oats: skim milk, extra thick oats, flaxseeds, pepitas and for my sweetener - a drizzle of maple syrup.
This morning at work, I was needing something hot to keep me warm and something with caffeine to pick me up. Did I go to Starbucks? Heck no, I didn't! I'm doing the Eat in Month Challenge. Instead, I brewed up a deliciously satisfying mug of hot tea - black tea with cream and sugar! It was fab...looking at this picture makes me want more! Maybe I'll get some tomorrow?
Lunch was leftover beef + spinach lasagna.
I thought I was going to leave work a little "early" (5:15pm-ish) but got held up unexpectedly. Besides that, work was mentally stressful today! I was feeling pretty wiped out and not like cooking or preparing food, but I knew I had more lasagna to easily heat up, so that was nice.
I decided to take a trip to Trader Joe's (grocery stores like TJ's and Earthfare make me happy for some random reason) to pick up some stuff to make salad and possibly some vino.
I got some good produce: organic romaine hearts, broccoli & cauliflower duet, organic baby carrots, and orange bell pepper.
And, oh yes, I got some vino - Rootstock Syrah - tonight's TJ wine sample. I always fall for their wine samples. This one is a bit more dry than I normally like, but overall, I enjoy it.
Whilst prepping salads tonight for dinner, I decided to make some for me and hubby to have with lunch tomorrow. Hey, if I was already prepping it, why not make extra and save myself some work later?
I must say, our salads tonight were pretty bada$$. We had: organic romaine, broccoli, cauliflower, organic baby carrots, orange bell pepper, some 3-bean salad, sunflower seeds, and Drew's rosemary balsamic dressing.
Soon after starting, I thought my salad would be better with some shelled hemp seeds.
So I added a light sprinkling of hemp seeds to my salad (and to hubby's).
Dinner was leftover beef + spinach lasagna. I know - I had lasagna for 3 meals in a row! Hey, this lasagna isn't going to eat itself! Hubby and I will likely have to attempt to freeze some of this lasagna tomorrow so we don't make ourselves sick of it.
Halfway through dinner, I remembered the rosemary olive oil bread that Kat + Stacy gave me yesterday. As soon as I remembered it, I paused eating to toast some up in the broiler with a drizzle of olive oil. As simple as that, it was the perfect accompaniment to dinner.
I was craving a little chocolate to go with my wine, so I broke off a couple pieces of my stocking stuffer - Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Goji Berry, Pecans, & Maca.
I've been brainstorming a fun idea for you guys with exercise/fitness related resolutions to help you squash your workout excuses. Post draft created, publishing up NEXT!
How's everyone doing with Eat in Month? Any interesting eats? Post your links in a comment! :)
Sorry for not posting last night but I was entertaining having a blast till MIDNIGHT!
Monday morning I made a quick 3 bean salad using this recipe I found on Simply Recipes. I intended to make it Sunday but...well, I didn't. So Monday AM it was! No cooking required, so it was quite quick.
I've been enjoying my CinnaChip breakfast casserole but thought the last couple times it was just a tad too sweet. I love my sweets and all, but I don't like when my sweets are too sweet. So, I thought I'd try something new. Something like the Celestial Sauce from Eat Drink and Be Vegan!
It was PERFECT! Even hubby liked it! The sauce reminded me a lot of the sauce I enjoyed on Bread Pudding at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.
I topped my bread pudding with sliced almonds for a little crunch.
I'm DEFINITELY making this again!
Then, it was back to work after my stay-cation. I was actually feeling really ready to be back.
I had lots of goodies to take to work: my frozen emergency lunch meals, emergency canned soup, meal bars, a bowl (for the canned soup), and lunch for Eat in Month.
I brought my new BPA-free Green Bottle to work too. Isn't it beautiful?! I LOVE it!
I also brought a Dilbert calendar - got this half off at Barnes & Nobles.
Lunch was really great: a toasted chicken sammie (Earthfare oven roasted chicken, Earthfare havarti cheese on Great Harvest Flax Oat Bran), my 3 bean salad, and some apples (leftover from the apple topping on that casserole).
For an afternoon pick-me-up, I made some Pomengranate White Tea with sugar (need to get some honey to keep at my desk at work!)
Let me take this moment to say that my zumba friends are the BEST! When I told them about the Eat in Month Challenge, I was worried we'd have to give up our Monday get togethers or that they'd have to go without (since I couldn't eat at restaurants). Buuuut, you know what? They joined in on the challenge! Oh yes, they ROCK! Thanks ladies! :)
Soo...what's a girl to do when you and your friends can't eat out together? Have them over for dinner!
Our house is a total wreck and I was terribly embarrassed that they had to see it in the state it was in, but our Mondays are too fun to give up because of a not-set-up house.
I decided to make lasagna! Here's a recipe you can use to re-create this beef and spinach lasagna.
Hubby helped me out by making some meat sauce while we were busy wrapping up zumba class so I'd just have to assemble the lasagna when I got home. Thanks babe!
I snuck some frozen spinach in the mix so we'd get some extra veggie serving.
We used our dining room for the FIRST time for our zumba dinner. What a great way to kick things off in there!
My friends brought yummy eats with them, including salad, which we topped with some of that 3-bean salad. It was a nice combo.
I lucked out while I was making our beef & spinach when I had a total "doh!" moment when I realized that one of my zumba friends was pescatarian!
The lucky part was that thanks to my well-stocked pantry, I was able to put together a last minute mini-veggie lasagna...yay!
Dinner is served!
Stacy + Kat!
Stacy + Kat also brought some yummy rosemary olive oil bread, which I toasted under the broiler and brushed with a garlic-y butter-y topping.
They even brought over a yummy dessert - tiramisu! (to stay in the Italian theme) It was the perfect ending to our Monday dinner together.
Thanks Stacy + Kat for coming over and bringing over some tasty eats!
Now...what to make next week???
Just before doing my grocery shopping, I hit up Barnes + Nobles. This is normally a lovely afternoon splendor of Starbucks coffee sipping and magazine browsing. However, since I'm in the first week of Eat in Month, I had to skip the coffee. As if!
If I had thought it through better, I may have brought a thermos of hot tea with me to sip on whilst magazine browsing. Alas, I didn't, so I just made a quick trip of it, only browsing a couple mags and heading to the Gardening section for one book in particular.
That's right! I got All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. I can't wait to start reading and planning my future herb + veggie garden. Something tells me I need to start on the prep work soon!
I also picked up this Best of Better Homes and Gardens 100 decorating ideas - Big Style for small rooms. I loved almost every room and set up in this book! I thought I may be able to remember the ideas without having to buy the magazine, but I've decided to keep it for reference. Can I use dark curtain rods if the decor in the room is overall light? I dunno...but let's consult one of my mags to see what they did. I like to have concrete examples whilst brainstorming room decorations.
Normally, I would have picked up a soup at Earthfare whilst grocery shopping, but thanks to Eat in Month, I headed home for something more cost-effective.
Lunch was again kind of weak, but after my big breakfast earlier, I really wasn't that hungry and didn't want to spoil my appetite for dinner (had something special planned).
Post lunch, I had blogging and errands to do. Before I knew it, it was time for dinner!
Since I had mascarpone on hand, I decided to try out a recipe I've been wanting to do for awhile - Giada's Chicken with Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Sauce.
I don't know why I've waited so long to make this. I guess buying all the ingredients seemed on the expensive side - mascarpone and marsala. I guess I just think mascarpone is expensive, but it wasn't too bad this time since I used it for two recipes. It was worth it! Both this one and that one were fab!
I used the rest of the fresh pasta from yesterday (I stored the 1/2 lb uncooked in the fridge till today) and also served dinner with steamed broccoli with a drizzle of real butter. I left the butter off the pasta as recommended in the original recipe. I decided the sauce would have enough flavor.
So yum! I think I am in love with all marsala-wine-based pasta dishes.
For dessert, I re-heated a tiny piece of leftover Cinnamon Chip French Toast Casserole and added a wee bit of maple syrup and a couple mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. As small as this was, I didn't quite finish it. I was pretty full from dinner!
After my lovely staycation, it's back to work for me tomorrow! Any one else headed to work after vacay?
PS I'm not looking forward to giving up my Starbucks Mondays or Bagel Day Fridays, but...in the name of Eat in Month, I'll do it! I'm only missing out on 4 coffees and 5 bagels. I will save roughly $30-40! Yay!
I thought I'd offer some pantry tips for those participating in Eat in Month (or just those wanting to eat in more).
I referenced some of my fave cookbooks and took note of key ingredients to create a shopping list for Eat in Month pantry items. I made a list on my iPhone using the Todo app (no messy papers...yay!) and took the list to the store. I picked up most of the items, but left off about 30% so hubby's eyes don't pop out of his head too much when he sees the bill (we're not used to doing large shopping trips, so our bills are typically pretty small).
I'd like to share some of my fave pantry items with you. Please note, I also have some pantry items that are part of my existing staples, so I didn't purchase all items today.
Keep a great pantry and you'll think twice about picking up the phone to order take-out - especially when you can make a delicious meal quickly and with ease.
So, besides your basic staples (flour, sugar, milk, etc.) here are some of my Eat in Month pantry items:
I love to hit up the bulk bins for grains, salt, sugar, etc. They can be big money savers since you're not paying for packaging - just the goods. I also like bulk bins because they allow you to sample something new (like quinoa) without investing in a large amount.
Today, I picked up spelt flour, millet, nutritional yeast, organic sugar, and wheatberries
Example: sugar. While I don't have the receipts in front of me, the pre-packaged sugar was roughly $4 while the bulk sugar (organic) was just over $2.
Eggs are a great source of protein and keep for a relatively long time in your pantry. When I'm feeling particularly lazy, I will often make an egg scramble with veggies and beans for dinner. You can use them in baking and other recipes. They're just great to have around!
A variety of cheeses. Many cheeses will also keep a pretty long time in your fridge. They are great for snacks or toppings of entrees or salads. I like to have shredded cheese, Babybels, The Laughing Cow wedges and will spring for parmesan, feta, mascarpone for recipes. I try to get the latter group (which tend to be more expensive) when I can plan a couple meals in a row that use them.
Deli meat and cheese are great to have around. Throw them on bread and you have lunch or dinner (toast it for extra oomph). Put them in egg scrambles. Make mini frittatas out of them...whatever you like! They are very versatile.
Today, I bought oven-roasted chicken (which I had shaved - I love the texture so much more than sliced) and havarti cheese.
Yogurt are great for quick, no-cook snacks, breakfast, and even dessert (you can even use them for baking or sauces!). I like to buy whichever yogurt is on sale. I love having a nice variety of yogurts to suit my mood: regular yogurts (like Wallaby), Coconut milk yogurts (like So Delicious), and Greek yogurts (like Chobani).
Sauces and condiments are a must in my pantry. You can use them to make salad dressings, marinades, toppings, etc.
Pictured: apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, tamari.
Other sauces and condiments: canola mayonnaise, sriracha, jelly, salad dressing, soy sauce.
I've switched to organic butter. I think it tastes so much better! I do also have Earth Balance for recipes where I feel a margarine-based ingredient is better.
Tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products are wonderful pantry items. They usually last a long time so you can buy them and know you just need to eat them in roughly a month (as opposed to chicken which needs to be used very quickly). I often use tofu when I'm at home and want a nutritious meal but don't want to go anywhere. (I usually only buy meats when I have a particular recipe in mind).
Tomato sauces and canned tomatoes make great pantry items. They last a really long time and make for a quick dinner. Add to pasta and call it dinner if you're desperate for food but don't want or have time to go to the store. Ok, that's not the best dinner ever, but I said if you were "desperate"! ;) I've used pantry items, including tomato sauce, to make dinners like my No Fuss Tortellini Pasta bake. You can use them in pasta dishes, soups, casseroles, etc.
Like the tomato items, canned beans are great pantry items because they last so long and are so versatile. You can use canned beans in soups, stews, pastas, salads, or as star ingredients in vegetarian dinners.
I absolutely love having broths and stocks in my pantry. You can use them to make soups, sauces, or in other recipes. I've used broth/stock along with canned beans and frozen veggies to make quick soups for lunch or dinner.
I always have lots of pastas in my pantry. These can be utilized to make regular dinners or those needed in a bind (when you don't feel like leaving the house). I like to store my pastas in tupperware to keep them airtight and so they last longer. If I run out of tupperwares, I like to keep the goods in plastic bags, but I think the tupperwares look nicer, are more efficient and are more eco-friendly.
Grains are a must for me. I like to have lots: brown rice, white rice, oatmeal, wheatberries, millet, and quinoa (I think quinoa is not "actually" a grain, but whatevs). Like the pastas, I like to store mine in tupperware when possible.
Quick grains are a life saver when you're hungry and considering ordering take-out or picking up pizza on your way home. I love boxed rice pilafs, boxed macaroni and cheese (when I don't have time for the from-scratch version), polenta, and quick-cooking rices (for when you want rice but don't want to wait for it to cook from dry).
Nut butters are great quick sources of protein. Slap them on whole grain toast and you have a great breakfast. Toss a spoonful in your oatmeal to complete your carb + protein combo and to keep you fuller longer.
I typically have a PB, Barney Butter, and Dark Chocolate Dreams on hand.
Non-dairy milks are great to have around for when you run out of milk or if you don't drink dairy (obviously! lol). I am a milk drinker, but I also enjoy drinking the non-dairy milks like rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk. These typically keep for a long time in your pantry and are great for cooking, baking, or just drinking.
I am a big tea drinker, so I love to have a nice variety of hot teas in my pantry. I love sipping tea whilst watching my fave TV show, reading a great book, cooking, baking...whatever! Tea is delicious and good for you.
My current fave is Yerba Mate. I also have a selection of delicious Teavana teas in tins.
Frozen nuts/seeds are great to have around - especially for oatmeal toppings. Nuts go bad relatively quickly when left out, but frozen, they last much longer. Besides on oatmeal, I throw them on salads or use them for baking.
Frozen food items are great to have around for the convenience - especially because they last so long.
Pictured: TJ's Meatless meatballs, TJ's meatless corn dogs, and TJ's Garden Vegetable lasagna. You may be wondering why I have so many veggie frozen items here when I'm a meat-eater. I have some frozen meat items, but I really don't like the way frozen meat tastes. The meatless versions give me the protein without the weird taste.
Frozen pastas are perfect because you can just add sauce and call it dinner, like my tortellini bake.
I've also used frozen veggie burgers paired with boxed macaroni and cheese and frozen veggies to make quick meals.
Oh, and not pictured but also in my pantry are frozen fruits and veggies (thanks for the reminder Rebeca). Frozen veggies are actually pretty darn close to fresh. They are typically frozen just after harvesting so you still retain a lot of the nutrients. I think frozen veggies are way better in taste, looks, and nutrition than canned (though fresh is always best IMO). I use frozen veggies as a quick veggie serving just microwaved with butter, salt, and pepper. I also toss them in pastas and soups.
As for the fruit, I use those in smoothies and desserts! I love to make fruit crumbles/crisps when I'm craving something sweet. I almost always have all the ingredients in the freezer and pantry and I like to think of crumbles as a dessert with a fruit serving (so it's kinda healthy, right?).
Ahh...the wonderful frozen meal. Ok, I'm actually not a fan of frozen meals. In general, I don't think they're very healthy, tasty, or great. I think they're ok in moderation but I think that people use them too much instead of trying to eat fresh food. However, I did discover a whole new group of frozen meals at Earthfare today that seem to be more healthy than your average frozen dinner. Additionally, I plan on taking all of these meals to work with me for those days when I'm at work and either forgot food at home or didn't have anything to pack. This way, I'll have no excuses to try to eat out during the day. These frozen dinners are going to be my emergency eats.
Another emergency staple - meal bars. Meal bars can be very healthy and often have great ingredient lists. I love them for pre-workout snacks, emergency fruit servings, or in a serious bind - emergency meals.
I like to buy my bars at Trader Joe's (where they're cheaper) or at other stores when they're on sale.
I picked up some random healthy food items that I saw referenced in some recipes in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I can't wait to try some vegan baking out! Some of those ingredients are expensive, though!
Today, I picked up: Shelled hemp seeds, organic tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, and flaxseed meal.
I promise, if you keep a well-stocked pantry with quick-cooking, well-rounded ingredients, you'll be less likely to order take-out and much more likely to eat in and you'll have some darn good eats, too!
What are your favorite go-to pantry items when you're hungry and short on time?
But I knew it would be even better as FRENCH TOAST!
With nearly half a loaf left today, I decided to make french toast with a twist - French Toast casserole! I based my recipe on this one found on allrecipes.com (click) except I used agave for the custard and organic cane sugar for the topping (which I used only 1/2 of on my version).
I also made sure to press the bread into the custard.
I also used earth balance for the margarine.
While my casserole baked, I made an apple syrup topping. I thought about putting apple INTO my casserole but decided it would be better as a topping.
Apple Topping directions: chop half an apple. Pre-heat a small pan over medium heat. Add apple and 1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Use as topping for french toast casserole, french toast, or pancakes.
The casserole made my house smell so amazing while it was baking! Ooh, that cinnamon! It looked perfectly puffed up after 45 minutes.
Breakfast is served.
I also added some sliced almonds on top for some crunch.
So so good! Quite sweet, though! I wish I would have made some bacon or soysage to cut the sweetness, but at least I got some good protein with the eggs!
Up next, grocery shopping for my Eat in Month pantry - First Swing!
Oh, and we got 4 more participants overnight! I need to go add them to the list now. It's not too late to join if you want to get in on the FUN!
My cleaning/organization frenzy continued when I decided to tackle a monster project...
The BASEMENT! Dum dum dum! The basement is where most of our stuff remains unpacked and where we left them on move-in day.
I haven't taken much time tackling these boxes since we don't really have any furniture for me to unpack stuff into. But, today, I decided that the best idea for us would be to unpack our stuff, group like items, and then take a look at what we have. Once we know what we have by group, we'll be able to better figure out what furniture we need to store our stuff.
I got some good work done in the basement which was good, but by the time I was ready for a break, I wasn't really feeling like cooking. We couldn't eat out since we're doing Eat in Month, so I decided to find an easy recipe that would cook up quickly. Hubby was sweet and went to the grocery store for us while I researched recipes for the rest of the week. I was looking for recipes to use up the mascarpone and parmesan I opened yesterday. I found a few potentials. So many good ones!
I decided to make an old favorite - Ina Garten's Linguine with Shrimp Scampi. I usually think of this dish more as a summer dish, but I thought was perfect for tonight since it's so easy, uses few ingredients, and cooks up quickly.
I was craving fresh pasta, so hubby picked up some fresh egg linguine pasta from a local shop that specializes in fresh pasta.
From the same shop, he picked up some rosemary foccacia. This stuff is heaven!
I refreshed the bread by drizzling it with EVOO, topping with a sprinkle of sea salt, and baking at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, I cooked the main attraction.
Vibrant lemons and pretty green parsley from my mom's potted plant.
This dish took about 6-7 minutes of cooking time and 2 pans. Nice, no?!
Hubby and I enjoyed dinner whilst watching The Proposal. There were some really funny scenes. Overall, it was pretty cute!
Yum yum! Round #1.
You know...I may have been hoping for take-out tonight but I need to remember how easy a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal can be! I felt very satisfied for staying in for dinner tonight. :) Thank you Eat in Month!
Speaking of Eat in Month, I updated the page and we have 12 fabulous participants! It's not too late to join in on the festivities if you're interested!
The last of our cinnamon rolls for dessert. Hubby and I shared it.
Even Bailey got in on the deliciousness with a Bowser (Dog) Beer (it's beef broth basically).
Nom nom nom!
Omg, just realizing that my staycation is almost over...so sad! I have so much more I still want to do! Back to work on Monday!
Anyone have any interesting eats tonight?
I was looking forward to leftover cinnamon rolls for breakfast today. They re-heat surprisingly well!
I made a fried egg to go along with my roll. Dee-lish! 1/2 Christmas Blend + 1/2 Peppermint Creme to drink.
Hubby noticed someone had gotten quite comfy on our bed while we were busy eating breakfast.
I took a moment to start reading Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. I only read one chapter. I know they're basically only a page or two long, but what I'd really like to do is take the time to understand the chapter and really think about it for a day or more before moving on to the next.
I enjoyed the book with some hot tea. I combined Teavana Mate Vana with Rooibos Caramel and organic cane sugar...mmm. Isn't the amber color of the tea in sunlight beautiful?
Besides making resolutions and setting goals, I also like to take advantage of the fresh start of the new year to motivate myself to get organized. I decided to try to downsize my clothes since hubby and I are in the process of picking out wardrobe/clothing storage furniture. The less clothes I have, the less/smaller furniture I need (which means saving $).
I started by tackling my "sweater bins." I have 3 - 2 for normal sweaters and 1 for casual/work-out sweatshirts/fleeces. As you can see, my bins no longer actually contain all my sweaters/sweat-shirts.
After carefully going through each bin and trying to pick out the items I truly haven't worn in the last year, I created a pile of items to remove. I also pulled items that don't fit me well or styles that I've outgrown.
The single white sweater will be donated. The rest will go to my parents house. See, I have a terrible time parting with my clothes, so as a compromise to get the clothes OUT of my house, I've decided to move them to my parent's house. This way, I will have emergency clothes when we visit, in the event I forget to pack something AND it will buy me some time to think about my decision. If I miss the clothes, I can always get them back. If I don't miss them at all, then after a year, it's probably time to donate them.
Bins AFTER. Muuuuuch better!
After my success with the sweaters, I tackled my closets (yes, our house has no WICs so I have to use more than one).
I followed the same guidelines (not worn in a year, outgrown, doesn't fit well) and selected several items to move to my parents house, donate, or try to consign.
Sadly, my closets don't look much emptier for all my hard work but I do feel good about the work I got done today.
I'm considering selling some of my clothes in the best condition online. Anyone interested?
Lunch was leftovers. I ate the rest of the collards, black eyed peas, and tossed in some pretzels (not literally) because I was craving something salty.
Honestly, I also kept lunch light so I could indulge in another cinnamon roll. I mean, I don't want them to go bad so they MUST be eaten! ;)
Now we only have one left! Gasp!
Perhaps I should make more sooner than later, eh?
Does anyone else have any Northface fleeces? They are so darn bulky! I'm wondering how to store mine. How do you store your fleeces?
Eat in Month officially began today. We've been eating out quite a bit the last couple weeks, so I was looking forward to some home-cooked food today.
Hubby and i had plans to go to IKEA today to get some more stuff for the house. While we normally would have planned to eat at the IKEA cafe, we decided to get something from home instead, thanks to Eat in Month!
We decided to revisit brunch since we liked it so much the first time.
For lunch, I refreshed some of those mini frittatas (from today's kicka$$ brunch) in the oven at 375 for about 5 minutes.
I zapped the hazelnut cinnamon rolls in the microwave to heat them up. I would have baked them, too, but I wasn't sure how the icing would handle it, not to mention, we were in a bit of a rush to get to IKEA and oven-re-heating is pretty slow.
Brunch...err...lunch is served! Sure, it's a bit repetitive from brunch, but these frittatas aren't going to eat themselves! Not to mention they were pretty freakin tasty!
Banana for a fruit serving.
We hit up IKEA and came home with curtains (yay!) but no furniture...not yet at least.
It was almost 8pm by the time we got home and I was not exactly looking forward to cooking, but I was looking forward to eating home-cooked food. The cooking part actually ended up relaxing me quite a bit, though I did manage to skip my usual in-process photos.
I only have the final results:
New Years Good Luck Meal: pan-seared chicken breast, pan gravy, black eyed peas, and collard greens.
We always eat blacked eyed peas and collard greens for New Years...it's good luck!
Hubby shocked me by saying the black eyed peas were his fave part of the meal...nice! I think my fave part = collard greens.
What's dinner without...DESSERT!
I made hot cocoa with unsweetened cocoa powder, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and organic cane sugar.
I added hot skim milk and stirred to combine.
I decided to add a little something-something to my hot cocoa with some Baileys.
Do you eat any "good luck foods" for New Years?
As I've said before, I'm a veeeery goal-oriented, Type-A person. I love using New Year's Resolutions to set a slew of goals for the year ahead.
I like making lots of resolutions. I tried to make mine attainable by following my guidelines for making New Year's Resolutions you can keep.
Here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2010:
Did you resolve to eat healthier or save money? Join in on the Eat in Month Challenge to help you keep these resolutions!
What's your toughest Resolution for 2010?
A couple of days ago, one of my all-time favorite Everyday Italian shows came on - Breakfast. The one where she makes the Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls, Mini Egg Frittatas, and Spiked Coffee drinks. I knew immediately that I wanted to make that meal on my vacay. I love from-scratch baked goods but don't typically allow myself the time to make such treats decided, but what better way to kick off 2010 than with a delicious brunch!
Hubby and I searched TWO grocery stores for frozen white bread dough, but found none. I figured any white-bread style dough would do, so we picked up a box of Pillsbury Hot Roll mix.
First thing this morning, I got started on brunch. I knew it would take awhile to make what with the "let the bread rise" steps, so there wasn't time to lounge around.
I used a combination of the box recipe and Giada's Hazelnut Cinnamon Rolls recipe.
For the Cinnamon Rolls: Follow box directions for cinnamon rolls. To sugar mixture, add toasted, chopped hazelnuts (about 1/3 cup - 2/3 cup) and 1/4 tsp cloves. Instead of using warm margarine, I used melted Earth Balance, which I brushed over the dough before sprinkling the sugar mixture down. I also made a double-batch of Giada's icing instead of the one on the box.
I wanted to have one cup of coffee and wanted that cup to be enjoyed with breakfast, so I sipped on organic yerba mate tea whilst working on the cinnamon rolls.
Hazelnuts! I had these stowed away in the freezer.
I cut the dough and placed the rolls in the baking dish. They rose for 30 minutes while I watched a DVRed Everyday Italian for more Eat in Month inspiration.
Soon enough, they were ready to be baked!
For the Mini Frittatas: While the cinnamon rolls baked, I got the mini egg frittatas ready. I used Giada's Mini Frittatas recipe except I cut the recipe in half and used turkey instead of ham.
parsley from my potted plant.
The eggs were a cinch - especially compared to those cinnamon rolls. I used turkey since we had it in the fridge.
While my frittatas cooked, I worked on the icing for the cinnamon rolls. I used Giada's recipe but doubled the batch of icing since the rolls made twice as many as Giada's version.
Before I knew it, the frittatas were done!
I drizzled the rolls with the icing and put the rolls in the off, but still warm oven to help the icing get nice and gooey.
And then, everything was ready!
Hubby and I were so excited to EAT!
Round #1 - I had 3 mini frittatas and a cinnamon roll with my coffee. As a side bonus, I read somewhere that some cultures consider it good luck to eat "round things" on New Year's day...not sure if the cinnamon rolls count, but those frittatas DEFINITELY do! Here's to good luck!
Yowsa - they were delish! What a great way to start the year - with delicious eats! I was in heaven!
All the work in the kitchen this morning must have made me ravenous because I went for a repeat of Round #1 with Round #2.
The roll was tender and the icing was nice and sweet. I'm glad we spent the extra money for the mascarpone - it was a wonderful treat! And the frittatas were pretty awesome. I'm definitely making those again. The fresh parsley really gave the eggs a nice pop of flavor.
I enjoyed my cinnamon rolls in true Diana-style. I like to my cinnamon rolls by peeling the ring apart and working my way to the middle.
Round and round we go!
This middle part is IMO the BEST part! The most tender and sugary and most icing-covered. Mmmmmmmmm
We let Bailey get in on the brunch celebration with a mini frittata.
I made him do some tricks before I gave him his New Year's treat and BOY did he LOVE it! He was all giddy after eating it.
We have special plans for New Year's Dinner, but more on that to come.
Are you eating anything special for New Year's?