Alternative Valentine’s Day

I have never been a part of a romantic, big gesture, Valentine’s Day. Despite my best efforts and my romance novel addiction, my life has not played out in that fashion. But honestly, its never bothered me in the slightest.

The people in my world – family, friends, neighbors – have never once put the notion that Valentine’s Day was exclusive to romantic love. In my world, its always been a celebration of all kinds of love.  My dad put heart shaped boxes of chocolates under mine and my brother’s pillows. I don’t think I ever saw my parents go on a date for the big day – they would take the children out instead. Me with my dad and my brothers with my mother. There was no mentions of gifts, though my mother got a much bigger box of chocolates than the rest of us.

My friend use to buy the girls in her life a rose for Vday. My best friend sends cards. My grandparents sent cards. (We’re a big card buying group of people). The neighbors would bake cookies to share. My aunt sent me candy a few times. These people love me, unequivocally. I don’t need a date on a random day in February to know I’m important to other people – I have wonderful people that are willing to illustrate it without effort.

I think its a myth that you need to be part of a romantic couple to enjoy a day that celebrates love. There’s all different kinds out there that are accessible. While I’m single this year, and not thrilled about it, I’m not going to sit home and dwell or be sad. I’ll call my dad, I’ll send some cards to friends and maybe watch a cheesey rom-com. I’ll tell someone I love them, and mean it.

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Lunch issues

I have serious lunch issues. Well, not serious. But lunch issues, nonetheless.

I like bringing food for lunch. As much as I like eating at resturants, that adds up quickly.  I’ve never been a sandwich person (though I occasionally stop at Panera or Subway. But then I don’t have to touch the lunchmeat, which I find gross). I don’t eat frozen dinners because (A) I’m cheap, and (B) I’m picky. Plus, something about those weirds me out, thinking about the chemicals and fake ingredients that are in them. I’m sure they’re fine, I know people that enjoy them. I’m just not one of them.

I tend to eat leftovers for lunch, or make something early in the week that can last. Lately, I’ve been on a mini meatloaf kick. I make about 24 of them, and freeze them three at a time. They’ve been great for lunches! But then I get teased that I eat the same thing everyday. Really, I can’t win.

Look at all that color!

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Once again showing my lazy nature, when I make these, I buy all precut veggies. The grocery stor near my house sells a  blend of diced pepper, and another one of celery/onion/carrots diced. I usually don’t put celery in there, but I like buying them all together so I can make tuna/chicken salads later.

Unfortuantely, the container is very large and makes my fridge smell like onions.

The recipie I found for this is here, at another Paleo Blog. That’s not the place I originally found it, but its the exact same recipie. Its pretty easy, and I’ve made it easier by not measuring anything. I double this to make my 24 muffins.  And I always add bacon.

 

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I use silcone cups because they’re easier to clean up. It takes a little while longer to bake them and they end up a little smaller. But overall, I’m in favor of them! They’re so easy to clean! (I got these from World Market).

Then when they cool, I put them in tupperware and store in teh freezer. Every day I bring my lunch (which is most days) I just grab a container and a little baggie of carrots. I also buy a huge bag of baby carrots and put them in little baggies that I keep in a bowl in the fridge.

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Easy! Now if I could just stop getting teased…

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Puttering around the kitchen

I have a tendency to have a very empty fridge. I hate grocery shopping and I eat mostly vegetables and meat (see: Lazy Paelo), so while the meat stays good in the freezer, my veggies tend to go bad fast. Or I have frozen ones. My freezer is generally full.

What I do have a lot of is condiments. Lots and lots of random sauces, spices and add-ons that seem to live in my fridge forever.  So when I realized I had a defrosted steak sitting in my fridge from Saturday (when I chose to go out to eat with friends instead of cooking it), I decided to figure out a way to use up a few of those jars.

Here’s what I used: some olive oil, garlic, horseradish, dijonnaise mustard, worcestershire sauce, and some salt/pepper.  I kinda eyeballed everything, but I would guess I used a tablespoon of the garlic, horseradish and mustard, a teaspoon of worcestershire  and two or three tablespoons of olive oil. I whisked it all together and then coated my steak in it.

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(I took these photos with my phone, so not the best quality…)

I didn’t feel like getting a grill dirty, so I broiled my steak in my tiny broiler with the leftover sauce dumped on top:

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I’ve never tried broiling my meat before, so it turned out tougher than I intened. I prefer my steak to be medium rare – this was probably well done. I did about 4 minutes on each side.

Then some steamed green beans, and I was done! It actually tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself! I might try a little less olive oil next time, but I’ll definately attempt this again.

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Happy Monday!

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Ideas

I have a one track mind. When I get an idea, or want to do something, it tends to stay front and center until its done. I get this way with party planning, a recipe I want to try or an argument I’m having with a friend that didn’t get resolved.

Currently I’m obsessing about an Oscar party I want to have. I know its a month and a half away, but I sent invites to all my friends and spent the morning thinking up recipes that I want to make that relate to the Best Picture Nominees.  I can post my final menu and how it turns out once I’m done, but I think I’m most of the way there already. The hardest two are Zero Dark Thirty and Argo since they mostly take place in the Middle East and I’m not as familiar with the food from there. I did live in Egypt for a while, and have a fondness for their sweets (seriously, the bakery in Maadi I lived near have the best cakes I’ve ever had in my life) but I don’t know how to make any of that myself.

Fortunately, there’s also Life of Pi to consider. Pie. Done.

More on topic, I recently had an irresistible urge to have one of my favorite easy-to-make dishes. Roasted kielbasa and butternut squash. Except, I didn’t have squash or kielbasa at home. So I drove an extra 15 minutes out of the way to Trader Joe’s to pick some squash up. They didn’t have kielbasa though, which brought my excitement level down. Regular sausage works, but kielbasa is just so much better with it. Then, I tried to drive home and it took – no joke- like 45 minutes because of ridiculous commuter trains at 6pm. Rush hour is no joke, even in the suburbs. I was suppose to be at play rehearsal at 7 but I got home at like 6:30 and was starving so I just showed up to my rehearsal at 7:30. The whole thing was silly – I had food at home, and would have gotten home at 5:30 and wouldn’t have been late to rehearsal  But my brain was screaming that it wanted squash and kielbasa.

It was totally worth the effort though. Its literally the easiest dish I make within my lazy paleo perimeters. I buy prechopped butternut squash (from either Trader Joe’s or Standard Market). I buy kielbasa. I put the squash in a 9×9 pan and pour some olive oil and seasoning salt over it. Mix. Chop kielbasa, mix into squash. Put in oven at 450. Take out in 45 minutes to an hour, or when squash is soft. Eat when cooled off.

I love it. I seriously would every week if I didn’t have to make a special trip out to buy the squash. Technically  I could just buy a regular one and chop it myself. But I really really hate dealing with peeling the squash.

 

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2013

It appears that I’m terrible at jumpstarting a blog. But this year is different, and I’m going to make a serious effort to do some blogging.

The reason this year is different is because I need to be proactive with my diet. I’m attempting what I refer to as a ‘lazy paleo’ diet where-in I follow most rules but not all. I’ve had some somewhat serious stomach issues and no real cause for them. I wasn’t diagnosed with anything like celiacs or lactose-intolerance but I still feel like sugar, dairy and carbs are my triggers. So as I transition from a cheese and pasta heavy diet into my meat-and-veggie diet, I think it’ll be easier to track through here. I’ve been trying to follow this diet since last month, but the holidays were just garbage and not conducive to a new diet. With the new year starting fresh and no big holiday/parties coming up, I think this is the time to start fresh.

I refer to the diet as ‘lazy paleo’ for two reasons:

(1) I dislike the idea of forcing my diet on my friends or suffering if I’m going out to eat. If someone is nice enough to cook for me, I may mention in passing that I’m trying to eat healthier but I’m not going to turn down their homecooked meal.  As it is a choice on my part, I hate imposing on their hospitality. And for the resturants, if I’m going to spend money on something I want to enjoy it. I’m not saying I’ll completely cheat and eat five pounds of pasta, but I’m not going to panic if there’s cheese in my salad.

(2) I don’t want to spend money on a lot of specialty groceries. I don’t mind buying some coconut oil, but I’m not about to run out and buy cashew milk for one recipe. I want to make my life simpler, so I’ll probably avoid things that require milk in general but a cup of milk for a cake won’t kill me (not that I should eat cake, but you get my point). I’m not running out for breadcrumbs made of gluten-free bread. I just won’t eat breadcrumbs.

So good luck to me, and to all the rest of you starting new diets! Whatever your resolutions are, I hope you succe

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So…yeah. Whoops.

I’ve got a tiny habit of starting writing projects that I never finish. I just get frustrated with mental blocks and let the frustration overwhelm me.

 

 

My goal for my 26th year is to post in this blog at least 4x a month. Let’s see if I can hit that.

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Start the New Year healthier

I am addicted to cheese. I have, at several points, had only cheese and beer in my fridge. I love macaroni and cheese, I eat blue cheese on everything, and I figure I can add cheddar to most things.  So the fact that I’m somewhat lactose intolerant is not really a positive thing. I’m trying to eat less cheese, less dairy and more soy milk or soy cheese. Its not going well. I love cheese too much.

But in attempt to start 2012 right, I found a vegan version of one of my favorite soups – cream of broccoli. I got it from the website  Joy the Baker, but added some soy cheese to it, and some sea salt. The soup tasted realllllly good with pretzels instead of crackers. I didn’t have all the spices or lemon juice, but I added my own spices and like I said, about a 3/4 cup of soy cheddar as well.

Vegan Cream of Broccoli soup

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour then drained

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 heads of broccoli, chopped into bite-size florets

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard seeds

fresh ground black pepper to taste

3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

about 4 cups of water

Soak raw cashews in water for 1 hour.  They’ll soften slightly.  Drain.

Steam broccoli until tender.  A fork should be able to easily pierce the flesh.  Remove from steamer and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat,  add olive oil, and onions.  Cook until onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute more.  Add cumin, salt, mustard seed, and black pepper and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add cooked broccoli florets, and remove from heat.

In a blender, add half of the softened cashews, about 1/2 of the broccoli mixture, and 2 cups of water.  Blend until smooth.  Pour blended soup into a large soup pan.  Blend the remaining cashews, broccoli, and 2 more cups of water.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into pan.  Heat over low heat.  Add lemon and worcestershire sauce.  Taste and season as necessary.  Add more water for a thinner consistency.

Serve warm.  Soup will last, in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.

And for dessert, my aunt had sent me Harry & David pears, which are delicious. So I made a crumble/crisp. I didn’t want to use up all the pears, so I mixed three pears with three gala apples.  So good.  I got this one from Pioneer Women

Pear Crisp

  • FILLING INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 whole (to 5) Large Pears (Bosc Work Well)
  • 2/3 cups Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • _____
  • Topping Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Pecans, Very Finely Chopped
  • 1 stick Butter, Melted

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core, and dice pears. Place into a bowl and stir together with 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Stir together. Drizzle melted butter gradually, stirring with a fork as you go until all combined.

Pour pears into a baking dish; top with crumb topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Place pan on top rack of oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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Hello! And, Spaghetti Pie.

I get bored easily. I also get distracted easily.

I have a ton of creative impulses where I want to sew, cook, write, paint, decorate…etc. And then I turn on the tv and two hours are gone. My apartment remains a mess because I get caught up in Criminal Minds and my creative side cries. Its not necessarily my fault that I love shows about crime; though I have squelched part of that addiction by not buying cable and ridding myself of TruTV. But I do have Netflix. You win some, you lose some.
I spend free time looking up recipies that I want to make. Unfortunately, I live alone so sometimes I end up eating the food for days. Or begging friends to come over – which would involve me cleaning. But when no one comes over, no one gets to taste the awesome food I make. Fortunately, I have a party on Saturday that should supress these urges for a little while. I also have a tendency to combine random foods when I don’t have anything that equals one recipe.  Plus, I’m really lazy.
So hence this blog. An outlet for all my creative impulses that randomly shoot through me. And to start me off, I offer up a recipe I made last night that’s adapted from this  Spaghetti Pie  at AllRecipes.com.

Spaghetti Pie

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Butter and Parmesan cheese to taste
 Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Put noodles back in pot and toss with butter and Parmesan cheese.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Drain and crumble. Put crumbled beef in skillet. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, bell pepper and pasta sauce. Keep heated on stove top
  4. In a small bowl combine sour cream, ricotta cheese and cream cheese and set aside.
  5. Coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and add the cooked spaghetti. Spread the cream cheese mixture over it, add the meat mixture and sprinkle with Cheddar Cheese.
  6. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

I don’t have a picture of my finished product, but future posts probably will. I will say this much…it was delicious. And fattening.  And incredibly easy to freeze for future lunches.

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