Posts tagged ‘cooking’
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Hi guys! Hot and sticky here in Chicago. The weather has been sorta all over the place — 108 degrees yesterday, 102 today, then it cooled off significantly after work when the clouds rolled in…then rain! I didn’t turn the AC on when I got home because it’s cool enough outside, but it’s still sweltering inside my apartment. Blegh!
I actually did my heaping mound of dishes last night (!!!), but still have a giant basket of clothes to put away, then an even bigger pile of laundry to do. Sometimes, being a grown-up sucks.
After getting home from work and immediately changing into some sweat wicking clothes, I noshed on a Gardenburger topped with goat cheese and avocado while joining in on the #fitblog chat that was tonight. It was so much fun! This was my very first one and while it was totally brain-melting (soooooo many tweets bombarding you at once!), I had a great time “interacting” with so many healthy living bloggers at the same time. I highly recommend doing the next one to anyone who is curious! You can learn more about #fitblog chats here.
So I promised I would give ya a certain recipe, huh?
That’s bread pudding!!! I love bread pudding, except I can’t handle the super heavy, creamy, over-sweet versions you often find in restaurants or at stores. I also don’t like the idea of making a huge pan of it since I live alone, so the only solution when I was craving it a few weeks ago seemed to be making my own mini-bread puddings!
Unfortunately, it was so good that I may have had two of them and a bite each of the remaining two…whoops :)
The base recipe is very easy, and the best part is that you can customize it with any toppings/flavors/mix-ins you want. I did two maple cinnamon walnut, one with dried wild blueberries and one chocolate chip! But I can imagine adding fresh/frozen fruit, cocoa powder, nut butter…the combinations are endless!
Laura’s fantabulous, individual healthy bread pudding:
- 4 pieces whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces (you can use gluten-free, but I didn’t try this)
- 3 fresh, organic eggs
- 3 T honey (you can use agave too)
- 3 T sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (you could use sweetened or flavored almond milk, or other milk of your choice as well)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- cinnamon to taste
- pinch sea salt
- fresh lemon zest (optional, but this will really perk up the flavor!)
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Tear up bread into bite-size pieces if you haven’t already and place in large bowl.
- Beat eggs in small bowl. Add vanilla, sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest.
- Spray 4 small ramekins (mine are about 1 cup capacity) with cooking spray.
- Pour almond milk and egg picture over bread, and gently fold mixture together with spatula (or your hands!)
- Evenly distribute bread and custard mixture into the 4 ramekins and top with any leftover liquid from mixing bowl. It’s okay if you don’t use all of the bread mixture, and the ramekins also don’t need to be all the way full.
- Top each pudding with whatever toppings you like — you can leave them in on top of the pudding, push them inside with a spoon, or if you want one uniform flavor, you can fold them in while mixing in the larger bowl.
- Fill a large square or rectangular oven-safe pan with about 1-1.5 inches of water. Gently place ramekins in pan so water reaches about halfway up outside of ramekins.
- Optional step: I topped mine with brown sugar to form a crusty top.
- Carefully place dish in oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until tops of pudding start to lightly brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes and dig in!
I wasn’t lying, friends…I’m just lazy. Some photos of the past month and a half or so…enjoy!
How was your weekend? Lovely and fun-filled, I hope — whether fun for you means vegging on the couch or out and about all day.
I had an interesting morning today; get this — I didn’t wake up feeling crabby.
I know — where did the real Laura go, right?!
A good part of yesterday was spent cleaning and attempting to reign in the complete organizational chaos that is my bedroom. I have never been an organized or particularly clean person, and when I don’t have proper space and storage capabilities, that mess is increased TENFOLD. My room almost always has stuff all over the floor (which is a paltry 5×10 little spot next to my bed) and if something isn’t on my nightstand, windowsill or dresser, it’s probably lost and gone forever.
Do you ever feel like your head is a mess when your living space is a mess?
The problem is also compounded by these guys:
Translation? Cat hair is everywhere. I feel like I am constantly picking and sweeping up little black tumbleweeds everywhere in my apartment, and especially in my room. Since it is so tiny, the fur has nowhere to go so most of it CLINGS desperately to my area rug and the rest clumps up together in corners. I kid you not, it is seriously gross.
Anyone have any suggestions for keeping pet hair/dander at bay, especially in small spaces? I brush them regularly, but with all the petting these little attention-seekers get, the hair is always coming off. (I vacuum and sweep frequently, of course).
Anyway, my long preamble was to explain why I felt so nice falling asleep and waking up after tidying up. I also have some squeaky clean sheets and a freshly made bed (you know, replacing the top sheet so it’s no longer bunched up on one side of the bed), which really makes for a deliciously luxurious night’s sleep, no? Maybe I should do that more often…
What I found made the biggest difference, however, was a surprisingly simple fix…
I opened my curtains!
Not only was I able to sneak in some fresh air since Chicago’s weather has been so nice, but the difference having a little sunlight in the morning really astounded me. It was easier to wake up on my own (although I still needed the alarm clock to actually get out of bed) and I just felt..well, happier! *facepalm* Duh, Laura…
My weekend was also full of good things. I got my first outdoor run in for the year, and was able to do so in a t-shirt and running capris. Talk about a mood booster! My mileage was average for indoors (for me, anyway) at 2.5 miles, but pretty darn good for outdoors! The pain in my knee is always an issue, so I have to be very careful when running outside, which is why I was so thrilled to make it all the way through my standard treadmill mileage! The sunshine didn’t hurt either ;)
I also spent most of Saturday with a certain someone and had the best time. I am almost afraid to talk about for fear of jinxing anything…as you may have noticed, I’m a total worry wort and overthink things way too much sometimes. But for now, I’m just trying to enjoy every second and try not to get too stuck in my head!
We went to dinner at a Japanese barbecue restaurant that I had never heard of before…it was so good! The best way I can describe it is a mix between Korean barbecue and fondue. There is a small grill in the middle of your table, then you order whatever combination of meats + veggies you want (they are served a la carte) and cook them yourself with a little set of tongs. It was so much fun, and I tried beef tongue for the first time…I was so nervous because, well, obviously it sounds nasty, but it was actually quite good.
There is a fun review of the restaurant here.
We went bowling afterward, then spent some time with his friends playing drinking games. My kind of night!
After some serious cleaning, I decided to hit up the gym yesterday with my Women’s Health book in tow. It had been a few days since I had really done any strength training (okay, five) so I really wanted to get back into it and feel the burn, baby.
And holy cow, am I sore!! I have slowly increasing my push up skills and can not only do many more than when I first started, but I can also do them better. Proper form really does make all the difference, and I have found that simply squeezing my glutes while doing push ups really improves the stabilization of my core (blegh, that was a mouthful). But you get the point — squeeze your buns and tighten your abs (whatever that means) while you’re pushin’, and your torso will stay straighter! Fun little tip from a newbie like me!
The rest of the workout included:
- body weight squats with shoulder raise
- single leg dead-lift with dumbbells
- standing supported dumbbell row
- hip raise with feet on a Swiss ball
- Swiss ball roll-out
- Swiss ball crunches
I think I’m missing one move in there after the squats but can’t remember what it was…Either way, I love these workouts. I really can’t endorse the WH Big Book enough — BUY IT!
My post-workout dinner last night was a delicious oven-fried chicken recipe I cobbled together from several online — I’ll post the recipe soon, because it was mighty tasty! I also picked up loads of veggies from WF, along with a few other things, so I’m excited to put together some fun meals this week…one of which will have an extra guest! :)
Adieu for now!
My apologies for my brief reprieve — I was out of town this past weekend and have been scrambling to catch up since I’ve been back!
I’ve had quite an interesting past week…As you may recall, I went on a date, but I failed to mention that I actually went on two. Oh yeah, I’m a player.
Okay, I’m not really a player — but I really didn’t expect to go on two dates with two separate people and like both of them. I’m worried this may get me intro trouble, but at the same time I think it will not only help me keep a healthy perspective, but also be…well, fun! I mean nothing malicious by it, I just happened to meet both people at the same time, and for once had good luck!
I am getting together with suitor #1 tonight for some beers and grub at a casual beer-nerd bar, and I’m quite excited. He has invited me to join him along with some friends even though we have only gone out once, so this could end up going very well, or very — VERY badly.
Anywho, this past weekend was spent in Madison! I went to school there waaaaay back in the day (not really) and hadn’t been back since I moved to Chicago last summer. I had a blast seeing old friends and even got to visit with my friend’s brand new 10-week old golden retriever. She is the CUTEST little bugger in the world and I will post more pictures tonight or tomorrow, but here is a little sneak peek:
Meet Shandy :) Doesn’t she look like a stuffed animal? My heart just about melted.
Since I left for Wisconsin right after work on Friday, I didn’t really have a chance to pack much aside from a bag of clothes. Knowing how things tend to go on weekends away though (especially in a state known for beer, cheese and brats), I was worried that I would spend the entire weekend eating junk with nary a vegetable in sight. This did, in fact, turn out to be the case — however, thanks to some savvy preparation on my part, I snuck some healthy foods in anyway!
It was freezing and raining as the work whistle blew Friday, but I trudged over to the grocery store anyway and picked up a few essentials: rolled oats, apples, bananas, baby carrots, Justin’s almond butter packets, red peppers (on sale!) and dried blueberries. The oatmeal was the real lifesaver, as the friend I was staying with had little more than cereal and milk for breakfast — and as we all know, this gal doesn’t do milk. I made peanut butter-y oats with dried blueberries and some borrowed honey + cinnamon both mornings, and even made some for her the the second time around! Her reaction when I arrived with a full bag of oats was hilarious, though — she was looking at me like I was nuts. (Okay, maybe I am a little nuts — but I was happy that I had again made the initiative to be healthy!)
That doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge in some good old Wisconsin fried cheese curds and beer though. Never heard of cheese curds? Look em up. They’ll change your life.
Speaking of taking healthy initiatives, I was really stretching my dedication last night. After staying at work late and stopping home to have a snack, I was exhausted and unsure if I would make it to the gym. I hadn’t been in almost a week and was feeling very sluggish, but was too far out of my regular routine to want to go without much of a battle in my head.
After some serious couch-ridden pondering and a few longing gazes at my pretty pink sneakers, I decided to just go — even if it was already 9:30 pm!!! I know, I’m totally nuts, but sometimes you just gotta make it happen. I did a quick 2 mile run (which, shockingly for me, took almost zero effort!) along with a few full-body power moves (think squats with shoulder raises and walking lunges with bicep curls). In the end, even though I left the gym at the whopping hour oh 10:30 pm, I felt amazing. As Julie said today, “You’re just one workout away from a good mood.” She always has the best mantras!
My lunch today was pretty incredible. I am way impressed with myself, guys — no joke. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in quite some time due both to time restraints (hey, dating takes a lot of time!) and going out of town. So when I was trying to decide what to have for lunch today, I was stumped. But then the simplest (and cheapest — I am way broke at the moment) occurred to me on the way home from the gym — beans and rice!
It’s the ultimate budget food staple, and couldn’t be much easier to prepare. Unfortunately though, I didn’t have any black beans, so I decided to try my hand at a Middle Eastern classic instead — Mujadarrah.
I wanted to kick mine up a notch as well as use some stuff from my giant freezer stash, so this is what went into the mix:
- 1/2 can french lentils, rinsed and drained
- liberal pour of olive oil
- 2 cubes frozen garlic
- handful of frozen spinach
- handful Trader Joe’s fire-roasted pepper + onion mix
- veggie/chicken broth
- sea salt
- cayenne pepper
While I was sauteing the onions and cooking the lentil mix, I made some brown Jasmine rice in the rice cooker, then mixed equal parts lentil/onion mixture and brown rice. It was HEAVENLY. I really had no idea something so cheap and easy to prepare could taste so decadent. And depending on whether you use veggie broth or chicken, this dish can also be completely vegan. Win! I brought a dollop of plain Greek yogurt along and stirred it into the mix to make it nice and creamy, then had a basic salad and honey mango on the side for lunch today. Love.
Off to finish the rest of today’s work, then it’s date night!
Bought a spaghetti squash on sale at Whole Paycheck and have been daydreaming about what I’ll do with it. (Food porn?)
Decided I’m making this tonight:
This stuff looks absolutely to DIE FOR. I think I will be making it ASAP, Can’t guarantee it will look anywhere near as lovely though! :P