File under: fail

February 22, 2009

Ugh, tonight’s dinner literally fell apart, and I have no one to blame for it but Mark Bittman.

Okay, not really, but if I wasn’t reading his newest book and getting all fired up about it, I never would have thought that it would be a good idea to make bean and grain burgers after a very long Sunday, right before a very long week. I mean, really, I only started cooking the pot of beans at 3:30 and suddenly I was hungry and I had to soak the bulgur and mash the chickpeas and mix in the egg and then it was just crazy and my hands were super gross and eggy and I still couldn’t get the stupid things to form into patties. What did I do wrong? I had to omit the onion because, even though I went through all the trouble of dicing and grating it, it was too membraney and really kind of mushy and overly moist for me to use without feeling like I wanted to vomit. I tried to dress one up a little for the picture, but if you look carefully you might be able to tell that it’s broken in three pieces.

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

busted chickpea burgers with sweet potato fries and ketchup

Matt’s sweet potato fries were good, at least. And, actually, the patties were fine, but only about half of them stayed together. A few also got a little extra crispy because I convinced myself that cooking them longer would make them stay together better. This did not turn out to be true. The recipe can also be made as a loaf, so I may try that next time. When I do this not on a Sunday.

On the bright side, I did a lot of food prep for this week – we’re currently worth our weight in bulgur and chickpeas.

Oh, and I actually cooked Friday and Saturday nights as well, against all odds.

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

whole wheat couscous with peas and artichoke hearts

I usually hate peas, but they were actually pretty good here. Or, it was 9pm and I was really hungry.

baked penne with asparagus

baked penne with asparagus

The market has had fresh asparagus pretty early this year for $1.99 a pound, so I’ve been trying to take advantage. It was good with the pasta. And, of course, so was all the cheese.

And now, I’m exhausted, so it’s time to clean the kitchen and get ready for my crazy week. I think I’m going to need a cupcake bowl.


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.

I love fall

September 22, 2008

Happy first day of fall!

Fall is officially the only season I like. I used to like winter, but that was in North Carolina, where winter mostly means Christmas. Here in Kansas, winter means snow, some ice, buying Yaktrax to strap on my shoes, some more snow, some blowing snow, and having my hair freeze on the way to work. Or at least it did last year. And that’s all I have to go on.

Maybe I’ll like it more this year since I’m not traveling for Christmas. Snow is really nice when you don’t have to drive to the airport in it.

Anyway, FALL! Fall is where it’s at. So, I celebrated the autumnal equinox by getting a pumpkin muffin for my afternoon snack. Things got a little out of control, considering that my usual afternoon snack is a Z-Bar or a Kashi bar, and not a muffin the size of my head. But I wanted it, so there you go.

Sadly, it meant that I wasn’t hungry for dinner at all, which makes sense considering that I was still eating my muffin at 7:15pm. You can’t let that goodness go to waste. But a big faceful of carby pumpkin does not a dinner make, so I soldiered through and made some real food.

We had some leftover tofu from last night’s dinner, so I marinated that in some Annie’s Sesame Orange marinade, which I picked up at the grocery store tonight. Then I just pan-fried it in maybe a tsp of olive oil. I actually wasn’t even going to blog this meal, but I think it was one of my finest tofu moments, so I basically had to. See the pretty, crispy pieces?

The tofu was so good it had its own aura. You can kind of see it. It’s the blindingly bright shiny part. I also had some bulgur-lentil pilaf, since we have approximately 98 tons of it left from Saturday.

Okay, now I have to go to bed so that I can get up at an ungodly hour of the morning and grade papers.

There’s a lot of exposition in this one.

September 20, 2008

I ended up throwing my meal plan for the week completely out of the window when Matt called me at work on Thursday afternoon and told me our water had been shut off. It came back on just before 5:00, but I was commuting on foot that day and, even if he had started cooking right when our rightful water was returned to us, I wouldn’t have had time to eat because I had somewhere to be at 6, and by the time I got home from work, it would be time to leave again. Poor planning on my part. Also, the water came out brown for the first few minutes. So, probably a good thing we didn’t cook. We had dinner at Bluestem, a restaurant I usually like, but found kind of lacking on this visit. I hope we caught them on an off day. Even the oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookie I got was bland. And that should have been the greatest food on earth.

Last night, one of my bosses hosted a bonfire and weenie roast at her house and we had dinner there. I had two Smart Dogs, which I used to eat all the time my first year in grad school when Matt worked a lot of nights. They taste much better in a bonfire situation, I have to say. Hence the two. I was really hungry. I also had some Terra Chips, some other chips, some Greek pasta salad that was really good, grapes, some of Matt’s baked beans, some Franzia, and a s’more. It was my first real s’more since girl scouts. When we buy a house, I am totally getting a gas range so that we can make them at home. Every. Single. Day.

Anyway, I wish I had taken some pictures of that, because the spread was awesome.

This morning, we decided to go to Topeka for a big Topeka Shawnee County Friends of the Library Booksale. It was seriously huge. I scored a handful of cookbooks and some magazines. It was kill or be killed at the cookbooks table, so I don’t know exactly what I ended up with; I’m just glad I came away relatively unscathed.

We had a massive sushi lunch at KiKu, did some shopping, and came back home. I went to get fall clothes, but had almost no luck. Against my better judgment, I bought a sweater at Old Navy, which should last a solid two wearings before it starts to fall apart. But it’s a pretty color. At some point during the drive up, my hips started hurting, so that was kind of a bummer. I hate trying on clothes anyway, but it’s even worse when you have to contort yourself into strange positions to take the pressure off your joints.

When we finally made it home, I felt like someone had drilled holes into my hip bones and left the drill bits there, so I took a little pain nap and then woke up and made dinner. We didn’t really have a lot of vegetables or fiber or whole grains in our raw fish gluttony at lunch, so I made Herbed Bulgur-Lentil Pilaf and an experimental side dish of zucchini/tomato gratin.

That pilaf was a 10. Green lentils are so much better than the brown ones I usually get in a big bag at the grocery store. For one thing, they taste good. For another, they do not turn to mush.

The vegetables were okay, but I should’ve done something to cut down the moisture, especially since I just used a stale slice of Ezekiel bread that I gave a quick spin in the food processor for my breadcrumbs. I toasted them a little, but they were still really absorbent. Anyway, here’s what I did:

Tear one slice of whole wheat bread into four pieces and put in the food processor for about 20 seconds, until fine crumbs form. Toast those in a dry skillet for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat, shaking frequently. Slice up a zucchini and a tomato. Blot them [which I didn’t do] and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle breadcrumb on top, and maybe some Parmesan cheese if you’re feeling crazy. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until brown and crispy. Enjoy.

A weekend of no labor.

August 31, 2008

I’ve been taking it easy since Friday afternoon, when we ended our workday by going to the campus dairy bar. I enjoyed some espresso ice cream. Mmmm.

I felt like a bum for skipping the gym most of last week, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go on Friday, either. So I ran some errands on foot and came home to make a reasonably healthy dinner. Here’s some Turkey Ragout (French = Fancy!) from Clean Eating. I think I’ve talked before about how much I love this magazine, even though I will always associate it with being stuck in the Kansas City airport two days before Christmas, crying because we ran off the road in snow and missed our flight, and I was convinced we weren’t going to make it home for the holidays. The fact that I overcame that is a testament to my love. That love, paired with mentioning it six or eight hundred times a week, resulted in a two-year subscription as a birthday gift. Thanks, Matt!

Anyway, this was good. And, apparently, clean:

It called for turkey breast cutlets, which I’ve never cooked with before, but might try to do more in the future. Mostly because they were so much cheaper than chicken. And all natural! Other than that, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, and lots of spices. It’s thick like a stew. I did some serious internet research and found out that ragout can be paired with noodles, so I decided to throw a grain in there. I made some bulgur because, when it comes to bulgur, our cup (or grain container) runneth over.

Yesterday I went to kickboxing and then I never left the house again. It was a football Saturday and I had a good book and I just couldn’t bear to go out. I know I had dinner, but it must have been really especially unremarkable, because I didn’t even bother to take a picture. I do know that whatever it was, it was just a stop gap between reading and dessert. I got these cookies and cream ice cream bars at the grocery store and I couldn’t wait to try them.

Today we actually did some minor labor, including laundry and spending bundles of gift card money at Target on fun things left on our registry. Then I went to yoga and came home and we made this colorful meal:

This is from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, and I loved it. I’ll definitely be trying more recipes from that gem. This was braised fish with artichoke hearts and red peppers. There’s some tilapia under there, it’s just hard to see. It was really rich and tasty but still healthy. Mollie Katzen is pretty much a genius.

And now, it’s time for me to figure out more ways to not do anything.

It’s getting hot in here.

August 4, 2008

So, I know everyone’s been all “OMG, where is See Food? Is she okay? She has no life, so she always posts on weekends.”

Y’all. Don’t worry. I’m back.

It has been so hot. We had a heat advisory all weekend and on Saturday, the heat index got up to 114. Today, the for real temperature got up to 108. I went outside just to say I felt it. Also, I work in a library, and libraries are always cold, so I get all thrown off when my computer says it’s 108 and yet my hands are so numb it’s hard to type. Anyway, starting Friday afternoon, the warnings all basically amounted to, “Do not leave your home.” But we’re getting ready to leave for vacation, so we had to do a couple of things like go to the storage unit and transfer boxes from the car in blazing heat, go get a few groceries, and, oh yeah, we steam cleaned the carpet. It didn’t get that hot, but I’m going to go on record as saying that I don’t recommend it during the hottest weekend of one’s life. Live and learn. At the farmer’s market on Saturday, I got this teeny little apple:

I’m not sure if that really captures the teeniness. I have really small hands.

Oh, at Target I got a Rodney Yee Power Yoga DVD since the gym was closed all weekend. I did it pre-steam cleaning on Saturday. He creeps me out with his tight pants, but his cueing is awesome and it was a fairly tough workout, with something like 837 sun salutations to keep me moving.

Saturday night we had Lime Biryani, a recipe from a recent issue of Women’s Health. It’s quinoa cooked with water and lime juice (genius), carrots, chickpeas, golden raisins, sliced almonds and a lime vinaigrette. It was all cold and delicious and summery and I kind of wish I’d make like ten servings. But I made four. So between dinner Saturday and lunch Sunday, it’s gone.

That’s a fancy new bowl we received in the mail this weekend, handmade by a woman in Vermont. Ahh. Vermont. I bet it’s not 108 there.

Sunday morning I got the completely ridiculous idea that it would be fine to exercise outside. After all, it was only 88. At 8:00 in the morning. By the time I got home at 9:15, it was well into the 90s. This is what happens when the gym is closed. I start to lose it, bit by bit. Anyway, I jogged a mile like an idiot and then I kind of staggered for another three. I came home and we steam cleaned once more, just for kicks. And then I got all sickly and I think I had or have heat exhaustion. The internet doesn’t lie about these things. I’ve been chugging Powerade, for which I have a deep and inexplicable love.

Tomorrow it’s only supposed to be 95! Which is great, because I have 119 things to do, including packing for VACATION. Yay.

Tonight I wanted another salad, so I made tabbouleh with shrimp and feta, inspired by the same magazine that included the lime and quinoa thing.

Also a new bowl, received on Friday. I may have mentioned that in my last post, but I’m too lazy to look.

Okay, now I’m exhausted. It’s time for bed so that I can wake up painfully soon and go back to the (hopefully) cool and open gym. And then it’s just 8 working hours, a bunch of errands, a sleepless night of pre-flight stress, a ride to Kansas City and a 2 hour flight between us and glorious North Carolina. Which is supposed to be getting hit with a similar heat wave later this week. What can I say? We have terrible luck with weather.

Don’t worry, I’ll be posting tomorrow night’s dinner before I go into vacation mode. I’m sure it will be breathtaking and will not at all have an “I’m panicking because we have so much stuff to use up while we’re gone so here’s an onion/orange/zucchini salad mmmmmmm” feel to it.

Get ‘er done

July 23, 2008

I was a busy little bee today. I basically didn’t have time to be in a mood again, so at least there’s that, but I was slammed at work. This doesn’t happen that much in the summer, because my teaching load is lighter and I’m usually working on projects with more fluid deadlines, but today was back to back to back. To back. And back again. And I’m still not done – I have a few more things to wrap up at home tonight. The good news is that it’s Wednesday, which means two more days and then it’s smooth sailing into a weekend of… cleaning.

Anyway, on to the food. I was all excited to make this saffron lemon chicken salad thing from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, and then I went to the store to buy saffron and I definitely came home without it. It was in the spice area with all the other normal spices, but instead of being, you know, 4.99 or whatever, it was 19.99. And there were about 6 strands of saffron in there. What kind of jackass business is that? Those strands of saffron probably cost more than my outfit that day. So what we had was lemon chicken salad. Sans saffron.

That chicken salad was awesome. I chose it specifically because I had a pound of green beans from the farmer’s market that needed to be used, and this recipe called for a pound of green beans. Lucky me. I was also intrigued because it involved cooking a lemon, scooping out the the insides and chopping up the peel for the salad. Zesting would’ve been easier, but this had really good flavor. So it was green beans, marinated grilled chicken breast, lemon peel, and a nice lemon-honey vinaigrette. With some bulgur on the side. Oh, bulgur. How I’ve missed you.

Okay, time to work and get myself psyched for a 5:30am gym trip.