Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2008

We’ve been going out to eat most of this week, largely because our apartment has been struck by some kind of disgusting plague of flies. We seem to have it under control for the moment, so tonight I actually felt fairly confident cooking without worrying too much about my food being contaminated by dirty insects.

It was warm here today, almost 80 when Matt and I walked home from early voting, so I decided to make a salad inspired by one I saw recently in a Women’s Health I was reading at the gym.

Quinoa and chickpea salad

Quinoa and chickpea salad

Quinoa cooked in broth, mixed with sauteed shredded carrots and red pepper, served over spinach, with a white wine vinaigrette.

I think there was a little bit of a protein overload in this meal (although, you know, I am in training), so I’m balancing it out with some candy swiped from the huge bowl we have because no kids came to trick or treat at our house.

I also violated my one caffeinated beverage a day rule by drinking a huge iced black tea at 4:30 in the afternoon, so I’m thinking I might have to go out and do something with this unprecedented artificial Friday night energy.

Have a fun Halloween!


In training

October 28, 2008

It’s only Tuesday, but I feel like the bulk of my week is over, because my two longest days are out of the way. I think it’s better this way, because now it’s smoother sailing until Friday afternoon, when I get to leave a little early to make up for the super long days.

I was planning to go to Rep Recycle after work, but I just didn’t have the strength to lift weights after teaching so much, so I decided to come home. This is usually an exercise death sentence for me, as I come home really intending to be active, but then… well, then I’m at home. Tonight was different, though, because I’ve gotten myself all pumped up about this 5k I want to do in a few weeks, so I decided to go out and enjoy a not completely freezing cold afternoon by doing a test 5k. I mapped out a newish route with Gmaps Pedometer and it was pretty awesome to actually run in neighborhoods and look at houses instead of running in a million circles at the park, or running nowhere on the treadmill. I do need to get some kind of late fall in Kansas-appropriate attire, though, especially if I’m actually going to pull it together and do this 5k.

Anyway, while I was out, Matt started dinner, which was penne with roasted tomatoes and white beans. It was awesome! The roasted tomatoes made the whole meal for me, but I think I’d make it with sun-dried tomatoes if I happened to be short on time.

Also, pasta is good for people who are “in training” right? Because, even though I only might do a 3.1 mile run/walk, saying that I’m “training” for a “race” makes it all feel that much more important.

Now I’m going to go watch some basketball and pretend there’s not a bag of peanut brittle calling me from the kitchen.


October 27, 2008

It is straight up fall here, with the trees suddenly being bright red and orange and yellow and so forth. In fact, this morning it was 26 degrees (and dark!) when I left home to go to work, so it’s basically almost winter. Which means: soup!

I’ve been up since five, so I wanted something quick and easy. I went for something new: corn chowder. I was planning to use a recipe from an old Cooking Light soups and stews cookbook, but I didn’t realize until later that it was supposed to have crab in it. So I basically just took inspiration from it and did whatever I wanted. And it actually turned out really well:

Here’s what I did:

  1. Heated about 1 tsp olive oil over medium
  2. Added 2 cups of diced red potatoes, 1 cup of chopped mushrooms, and 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and heated for about 3 minutes
  3. Added 3 cups of skim milk, 2 cups of broth (I used chicken), salt, pepper, and thyme
  4. Increased heat and brought mixture to a boil
  5. Reduced heat and simmered for about 30 minutes
  6. Added more thyme and about 1 tbsp of Parmesan cheese

This probably makes 4ish servings? I’m not sure. We had some more of that multi-grain french bread on the side to round things out.

Okay, I’m off to do some dishes and get some sleep.

This is a long one.

October 26, 2008

The conference went pretty well, and, of course, since it was in Lawrence, I got to eat all kinds of awesome things: Falafel salad and baklava at Mad Greek, Phad Sea Eaw at Zen Zero, and ice cream at a real Ben and Jerry’s!

Yesterday I had a weird fatigue flare-up, which hit me on my walk home from the mall, where I did such strenuous things as: returning pants and avoiding all shopping opportunities because I just spent an insane amount of money on a pair of boots. At some point on my 3-block walk home, though, I was just totally exhausted and had to find a place to sit down. Weird, right? I spent the rest of the day in bed, getting up only to help with dinner. Matt made double-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, and I decided to throw together some soup on the side, because it just felt right.

Swiss and Sharp Cheddar Grillie Cheesie

Swiss and Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Let's call this half-grain soup

Let's call this "half-grain soup"

The grilled cheese was delicious, of course, and the soup was good, too. Here’s what I did:

  1. Brought 4 cups of broth to a boil (I used chicken, but whatever would work)
  2. Added about 1/3 cup quick cooking barley (the whole grain) and cooked for two minutes
  3. Added about 1/3 cup Farfalline (orzo or any other small, quick cooking pasta would work – this was the non-whole grain, hence the “half-grain soup.” GET IT??)
  4. Simmered over medium for about two minutes
  5. Added 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach to the mixture and brought back to a boil
  6. Simmered over medium for about seven or eight minutes
  7. Added salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper
  8. Ate it (it makes 4 servings as a side, probably 2 as a whole meal)

See? Simple. And good. It would be more of a meal with more stuff in it. Like a protein, maybe an egg? And a little cheese on top would have been great, but I decided to cut myself off with the double cheese sandwich. Restraint: apparently it’s a virtue.

Tonight I tried something new: stuffed acorn squash.

This was a big hit – we both really liked it. Here’s what I did for the squash:

  1. Preheated oven to 375 degrees
  2. Sliced (read: had Matt slice, because I am clumsy with large cutting tools) a medium acorn squash in half and scooped out the seeds
  3. Put squash halves, skin side down, in a baking dish with a little water, and baked for about 40 minutes, until the skin was soft enough to pierce

For the filling, I just cooked some bulgur, added a can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed), grilled a turkey sausage and added chunks of that, threw in some chili power, garlic, and cayenne, and called it done. When the squash was cooked through, I stuffed the halves with filling and sprinkled on some cheese, then broiled for about 4 minutes, until the cheese was melted.

On the side, we had some multi-grain french bread and amazingly good fresh brussels sprouts from the last farmer’s market of the season, roasted at 375 for about 30 minutes.

Since I was out of commission yesterday, today was super busy and I seem to have totally worn myself out. I’m going to see my rheumatologist in a month, and I’m hoping he’ll have some kind of miraculous answer for why I am So. Exhausted. All. The. Time. I know that, at least lately, I haven’t been making the healthiest choices, and that does play a role, but this time the tired came first. A big thing for me in the next month is basically going to be motivating myself to exercise through the fatigue. Last week, I only managed one day of cardio (unless you count a 3 mile round trip walk to and from dinner, which I probably would have if I hadn’t eaten 486 tater tots at said dinner), and this week I’m aiming to get back to my usual 4-5, though my week is packed full of work things and my run at the gym today was incredibly hard. It was really easy to slack off when the only consequence was that my pants didn’t really fit right. But yesterday’s flare-up was really alarming to me, and it forced me to refocus on the fact that, while I can’t control whether my body is healthy, I can control whether the way I treat it is. And so, my goals this week are: more exercise (even if it’s light), less sugar, more sleep, and more water (I read recently that dehydration is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue, and we all know that I believe anything I read).

And I’ll be getting on that just as soon as I eat a giant frosted Halloween cookie. I may even have some water on the side.

Branching out

October 22, 2008

Okay, speedy post as I’m leaving for a conference in the morning and I still need to finish packing.

Tonight, I tried a new vegetable: turnips! I got some at the farmer’s market and decided to roast them tonight with some little red potatoes and a sweet potato. I had the hardest time peeling them, so Matt had to take over, but I handled the dicing. They’re good! They taste like more vegetable-y potatoes.

They were really the centerpiece of this meal, but I also made some tempeh and steamed some brussels sprouts. Apparently Matt hates tempeh. Who knew?

And now I’m off to pack and practice some presentations. I’ll be back in a few days!

Bon appetit

October 21, 2008

I took a break from bok choy to try out a recipe that a co-worker, Antoinette, shared with me a few weeks ago after seeing my failed attempts at eggplant preparation. This was her healthier version of a Bon Appetit recipe from 1994, and it was excellent!

Pasta with eggplant and tomatoes

Pasta with eggplant and tomatoes

I think I inadvertently selected some sort of strange setting on the camera, because I couldn’t get a normal-looking picture. Anyway, for this I used some skinny little farmer’s market eggplants, diced tomatoes, parm, and a mixture of whole wheat penne and rotini. The recipe called for rigatoni, but grocery store sales dictate my eating life, so we had this pasta instead. I think it probably came out about the same. The only sad part was that we didn’t have any fontina cheese, which the recipe also called for. We just subbed extra parm, which was good, too.

Looking around the Bon Appetit website for the original recipe, I stumbled on this article about Durham and Chapel Hill. I got all caught up in it, and I never found the recipe. It’s a good article, but it makes me feel like I missed a lot in the six years I spent living there. I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

I’m feeling better today, but, in an effort to get a head start on my self-care New Year’s resolution, I think I’ll be heading to bed early tonight. Like, about now. I’m halfway through a good book and I need to rededicate myself to it.


October 20, 2008

At the penultimate farmer’s market of the year on Saturday morning, I got the biggest bunch of bok choy I’ve ever seen. I mean, it wouldn’t fit in a bag, my arm hurt from carrying it, and, half gone now, is still taking up an entire shelf in our refrigerator.

And it was only $2!

So, bok choy has been the featured ingredient in our last two dinners.

Last night, which got a little hectic because I had another event with my class, we made soba with tofu and vegetables, in a delightful almond sauce, using this recipe.

My RA started flaring up last night, and eventually woke me up at 4:00 this morning. I love that. Luckily, I have an awesome husband who didn’t mind getting up at 5:00 to get me some medicine. Anyway, I took the morning off work, and I learned several important things:

  1. The construction workers do not care that I did not sleep well and that I am in pain; they continue to yell and dig holes and drive their truckies around regardless.
  2. People who live in my building do not seem to work during the day.
  3. Which seems to lead them to rampant abuse of hot water, as I had none when I eventually rallied and got out of bed to get ready for the day.

Because not working when I have a million things to do and I feel like I’m supposed to be working makes me twitchy, I drove over to work, got my laptop, and came back home to work for the afternoon. I think I’m going to make “Work on self-care” one of my 2009 resolutions, because I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’ve been kind of a failure at it recently. And I’m pretty sure that getting depressed and eating half a bag of candy corn doesn’t really count.

Anyway, after I finished working, Matt and I went on a really short walk so that I could try to loosen up my knee. Then, we made chicken fried rice, using an adaptation of this recipe.

We still have so much bok choy left. I have no idea what to do with it.

Since dinner, I’ve been grading papers, which pretty much sucked every bit of energy I had left. So now I’m going to go to bed and try to force myself to have a positive attitude about tomorrow. GO TUESDAY.