Monday, November 30, 2009

Grown up

I feel light. On top of the world! responsbilities, no heart aches, just free! Staring out at an endless ocean, breathing in it's scent, the aroma of possibilities. The water is calm, the only sound the waves gently lapping the beach. The temperature is perfect, a little warm, but not hot. I raise my face to the sun, close my eyes and soak in the sun's glow.

With a start, my eyes fly open and I search, what time is it? 2pm. I'm in bed. All of a sudden a giant boulder comes crashing down on me, my eyes are heavy, my heart, twisted in knots. My body, slow, heavy, beat down.

Isn't it the worst, waking from a delicious, hopeful dream to a harsh jarring reality?

Then I hear a little banging, it's music... coming from... somewhere. Can't hear the words but can make out a thumping bass and an angry tone. Thump, anger, thump, they beat me down, thump, mad at the world, thump thump.

I close my eyes, and try to go back to the beach, but there is a knot forming in the back of my head.

What I want to know is, when did I become a grown up? How can this be? I feel like a giant polar bear, more like a grizzly but I like polar bears better, and this is my reality so I say polar bear. I just woke up after a 10 year hibernation. Youth, is a thing of the past. I don't recognize this life, it's so.. different.

Did you ever get into a swimming pool and run like crazy in a circle with a couple other people, run run run! Until all of a sudden you've created a current, you let go and Wheeeeeee! And then try to stand up in it but can't, the pull is too strong so you just goooo with it! (You have, right?)

This is my life right now. I feel like I'm running in circles, but I'm running alone, faster and faster trying to get that current to pick me up and take me to places where I'm successful, free, happy. Maybe my problem is that I'm running in circles, always end up right back at the beginning. I need to go in one direction, forward.

Please pardon my lack of blogging lately, I've been rather introspective. Not to mention busy running in circles! 2009- you've been rough on me. Alas, I am determined to cleanse, renew, and enter into 2010 with hope. I'm hopeful for so many things, but most of all to climb out of this hole I've seemed to dug myself into.

Bitter, party of one?

I'm so leaving you in 09.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not much doing at all

I'm kinda slowing down a bit these days but it's been nice. My brain needed a little break. Oh yes I've still been cooking, duh, girl's gotta eat no? But I haven't thought about taking pictures and posting recipes. Consumption comes right soon after cooking complete. It would happen a split second earlier if I didn't have to call hubby to the table. Alas, he gives me a little break, to walk from the kitchen to the bottom of the stairs, where I (quietly) yell to COME N GET IT! Saunter back into the kitchen, pour us some tea, and sit at the table and wait. And wait a bit more. Optimal time to take pictures I know, I just...haven't ya know? Because I'm on a (brief) mental break.

Not so good the week of Thanksgiving. Even worse the week before the GRE and 2 weeks before finals! Thanksgiving is Thursday but we are having it today so we can volunteer Thursday. Even with bird in oven at the moment, I'm not finding that happy place to get up and cook, what up with that? So not me.

I've heard that usually before a major life change you go through a major discontentment.. that's where I'm at now. Really frustrated with things, especially this feeble attempt at weight loss and I really don't think I've lost a pound yet. I'm tired. And tired of being tired! Ready for life to change for the better but doing some soul searching to find out what direction it will take. So as I venture on this journey, please shake your head in dismay at this horrifying story:

My copy and paste doesn't want to work, click the above link to find out about this horrible shortage of eggo waffles. :( Sad day indeed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eggplant & Tomato gratin

It's getting to be end of the semester time, which means 2 projects due, last tests in 3 classes followed by 3 finals, and GRE! Last time I took it I couldn't sleep for a week I was so nervous. My score wasn't where it needed to be, so I'm retaking it - only this time for some reason I can't stop sleeping! I have been taking naps every day I'm home, missing valuable study time. Maybe it's the getting up at 5am. Perhaps I should rethink that? Although I will say, it has been much easier to get up at that time! No weight loss to report yet. Unfortunately and discouragingly.
Here was my dinner tonight, ringing in at a nicely low 300 calories, whoop whoop whoop! I found it in the most unlikely place too - Family Circle magazine! From June 2007 -- I've made it several times and love it every time. I'm the only one in the house who likes eggplant though so I don't make it as often as I'd like.

Eggplant and Tomato gratin

2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp basil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup fat free half and half
1.5 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Place tomato slices on paper towels; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Place more paper towels on top. Let stand 30 minutes. Pat top of tomatoes to remove as much liquid as possible.

2. Coat both sides of eggplant with nonstick cooking spray. Heat broiler.

3. Broil eggplant slices on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray for 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

4. Reduce oven to 350. Coat a 2.5 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the bottom. Arrange eggplant and tomato slices, alternating, around baking dish and down center in a single layer if possible. (This wasn't possible for me - no big deal!)

5. Sprinkle casserole with oregano, basil, garlic and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Drizzle with half-and-half. Top with both cheeses. Cover with foil.

6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake 10 minutes or until cheese is golden.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Attention to the Mommalas!

Christmas shopping has begun! If you are like me, you stay in the land of Far Far Away.. from the malls and crowds... and do all your shopping online. Which also means, shop early to avoid big shipping charges and also, before checking out, go over to sites such as and to make sure there aren't extra savings out there - I can usually find at the very least an additional 5% off coupon for anything on the internet. Every little bit helps right!?

Check out Picky Palate's site for a great giveaway for online Christmas shopping at Out of the Toy Box. They have lots of unique award winning toys, but of course my favorite (ahem, I mean, um,..if I were a child) are the food toys!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


They say it takes 28 days to develop a habit? If this is true - 7 days down, 21 to go! This week I woke up by 6am every day, and either going to work or to work out. I'm not going to lie, it killed me! It was pure sweet torture.

The working out bit was fabulous, I felt really good and kicked some booty. Then I was sore and exhausted for the rest of the day! I had to drink more coffee than usual. Even then I was dragging. I just hope this gets easier.

I mean, I hate life when my alarm goes off at 5:05 am. I hit snooze, but my faithful pup jumps out of bed. Oh, to have the energy of a 2 year old lab. Then the alarm goes off again 10 minutes later and I give it the angriest look I can muster. Still, it doesn't care, continuing to blare into the depths of my sleep. I reach over, pound it off and let out a big sigh. And lay there for another 5 minutes, angry at the insanity of rising before the sun. Then comes the thumping, good old lab energy. His tail starts thumping the floor, the wall, the dresser, faster and faster and I can't make it stop so I blindly reach for my glasses, knocking everything on the nightstand over in the process. And the thumping continues.

I haul da booty from bed, sometimes my body will get off the bed but my head refuses to leave the pillow. With a final pathetic groan I lift up and drag my poor sleepy body to the bathroom. And the thumping continues.

These are my mornings. Every morning. I went to work 3 days and worked out the other 3.

My husband, helpful man is he, went to the gym with me and also reminded me that I would lose weight much quicker if I changed my diet.

True indeed, true indeed.

If only I didn't love food. If only eating was a chore. If only I hated to cook. If only I didn't have the metabolism of an elephant.

I believe I am cursed. All I have to do is THINK about losing weight and I gain 10 pounds, just like that. I can maintain my weight for months and months, then decide to lose weight, and on it comes. Oh why, oh why do I love food so much?

Just 21 more days! I hope to report back that I bound out of bed at 5:05am, no more snooze button, rush over to the gym, come home and have endless energy. Stand by for that! But don't hold your breath. I still think getting up before the sun is inhuman. Why won't someone bring back the siesta? Please?

This week I made Peppered Shrimp Alfredo and it was gloriously good! I used whole wheat pasta, roasted red pepper alfredo, and low fat half and half instead of cream. This recipe is a keeper!

Recipe adapted from (click above link)

8 oz whole wheat linguine
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, diced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (16 oz) jar roasted red pepper alfredo sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup low fat half and half
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil together and cook onion until tender. Add garlic and mushroom and cook for 2 minutes, until soft. Add shrimp and cook until pink and firm. Pour in alfredo sauce, half and half, and parmesan. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir drained pasta into the sauce.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Other People's Blog Recipes..

I am still new to the blog world and still enthralled at all the fabulous recipes people are posting. Here are a few of my favorites that I've tried.

How can we forget Smitten Kitchen's Tomato and Corn Pie.

Then there's Pioneer Woman, with some fabulous recipes of her own. I made her Mac n Cheese:

And! Can't wait to make this again: Penne ala Betsy!

And finally! Sitting on my oven cooling as I type, YES!! Picky Palate's Black bottomed Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes!

Don't hate.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Squash, Pear, and Onion au Gratin

I've often been intimidated by the butternut squash. What the heck do I do with that thing? But I love squash, so here's what I've always done. I'll buy a butternut squash, get all excited and bring it home and sit it on the counter and stare at it.

That's it.

Because what the heck do you do?

I imagine back to the days of the neanderthals. How did they know to crack it open and what to do with it? I often wonder about how many foods were discovered, like the coconut. Who first looked at that thing and thought to crack it open? Well, ok, a coconut probably fell from a tree, bonked some neanderthal on the noggin, cracked open, and while all his buddy nomads bust a gut laughing at him, he scooped it up and...licked it? I don't know?!

They must have gotten to where they saw something, anything, and cracked it open. Everything was edible on the inside. Even the hunters, kill the animal, crack it open and eat.

It makes you wonder how many mistakes or mishaps there were with cracking and eating. Maybe there was a designated taster, the village idiot. Sent to be the first taster, and as long as he didn't die, it was safe to eat.

These are the things I wonder about.

Well, this time I finally bought a butternut squash and figured out what to do with it and oh what I've been missing out on! Soooooo good. I mean real good! Give it a go!

Squash, Pear, and Onion au Gratin
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1 1/2 lb butternut, buttercup, or banana squash (banana squash? Never heard of it!)

1 large onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 tbsp butter or margarine

1 medium pear, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tbsp fine dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp parmesan cheese

1 tbsp melted butter or margarine

Peel the squash (!) and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Remove and discard seeds. Set squash aside. (I love when recipes tell you to set something aside)

Cook onion rings in the 1 tbsp hot butter for 5-10 minutes until tender.

Arrange half the squash slices in the bottom of an 8x8x2 inch baking dish. Top with half the pear slices. Repeat layers. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover with cooked onions. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes or until nearly tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp melted butter, sprinkle over vegetables. Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or until tender.

The original recipe calls for also putting in 2 tbsp walnuts with the bread crumbs which is probably really tasty but I didn't have any so I left that bit out. Served with slow cooker parmesan chicken and mashed cauliflower.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

All-In-One Holiday (Bundt) Cake

Can I call myself a baker if I do not own a bundt pan?

Whenever I see that word bundt I think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the husband's parents bring the Greek parents a bundt and they not only had no idea how to repeat the word Bundt but also had no clue what to do with it, so they stuck a plant in the center. Boon? Boon - t? Buoount? Whatever, find someplace for this thing.


I have a habit of rearranging stores when I am shopping. (Sorry to anyone who works in retail!) Target, I rearrange the heck of on a weekly basis. Bed Bath and Beyond - monthly. You know how it is -- walk in and decide you can't live unless you have the eggplant purse with matching scarf. Continue to the shoes, ooh. Those are cute, $20 throw em in the cart! Then onto books and movies, they're only 10-15 bucks, can't decide between 2 - get them both! Then on to home goods, a bundt pan! I need one! In the cart it goes.

Then I remember why I came to Target in the first place - prescription, shampoo, toilet paper, garbage bags. Ooh. Combined $20, maybe I should put something back. So the movies go back, right next to the hairspray. Do I really need these shoes. Sigh. Longing stare. I do! I really really do. Maybe next paycheck if I really want them. Sigh. Damn. Ok, they go back next to the candles. Next, the purse and scarf follow.

Then, standing amongst the pretty plates, I start to read the books and decide.. should I buy them here, or wait to get them used for $2 on amazon. Ok, I'll get one. And the other will go right next to this pretty silver platter. And the bundt pan. I really do need one. I get up to the register, decide it can wait, but don't want them to give me dirty looks for putting it in the checkout line, so I put it next to where the eggplant purse once was.

And that, good people, is Store Rearranging 101. Leave the store with exactly what you went for, nothing more. :)

Here's another thing. Remember my "gimme somma dat" cookbook I got for my birthday? About a month later I realized there's a whole blog movement around this book! It's called Tuesdays with Dorie. Last Monday I wanted to bake so I went thru the book, and picked out the All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake. Little did I know, I went to the TWD website afterwards and they are making the same thing. The dilemma I find myself in, is do I follow their rules of not posting the recipe? I'm not part of the club so I'm not bound by rules... so I'm gonna be a rebel... here it is!! Cue the Billy Idol music.

Oh yeah, and for obvious reasons, I made mine in a springform pan!

All-In-One Holiday (Bundt) Cake
Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
10 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger, set aside.

Beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add pumpkin and chopped apple, don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday Breakfast and a new treat

I love cereal. I mean, adore it. I mean, I will eat it all day long. I don't stare at the box while eating it like I used to growing up. My brother and I used to fight about who got to look at the box while eating. It's kind of funny now that I really think about it.

Anyway, this is not about my love affair with cereal. (Although I did enjoy one box each of Boo Berry and Frankenberry last month -- OOoooh!!) I eat a bowl of cereal every morning. Except! Every Sunday after church I cook us a mean breakfast. Yesterday we had a bit of shopping to do after church, and IHOP was right there and it doesn't even sound appealing anymore and that used to be my favorite. Now.. Nope. They can't cook like I do, I'm sorry to say. I ruined going out to breakfast for myself, on account of being able to cook everything just as we like it, something IHOP just doesn't do for me anymore.

Specifically - egg whites and turkey sausage. For the two of us, I make 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg. Just a little bit of milk, and whatever seasonings we're feeling that day. A dash of the S&P, a little garlic powder, all purpose salt free seasoning..

And the star of the show, fried potatoes. Aw yeeeaaah. Sorry, IHOP and Waffle House, you can't touch these.

Fried Potatoes

1 medium sized onion, cut into large chunks
3-4 tbsp butter, divided
4-5 cooked red potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Seasoned salt
All Purpose Salt Free Seasoning
Black pepper

Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a medium pan and cook onions until tender. Add the potatoes and garlic and 1 more tbsp of butter. Add seasonings to your liking and fry dem taters up! Add butter as necessary to keep potatoes from being dry.

We like our potatoes on the crispy side, so I fry them for about 15 minutes. Don't be shy with the butter and seasoned salt. This is not the healthy portion of the breakfast - that's what the egg whites and turkey sausage are for!

I just found a new indulgent yet lighter in calories treat. Wow ohmygoshyouhavetotryit!!!
Check out the website HERE. That's all I have to say about that. Freaking fabulous!!!