Category Archives: Review

G Love And Special Sauce

Last night we did something wild and crazy!  We went to a concert.
Nick’s friend came up with this outlandish idea, having heard the band before: G. Love and Special Sauce.  I’d never heard of them before so I was up for giving it ago.

We headed down to the House of Blues.  I’d never been there before, but it’s actually a really cool venue.  I didn’t take any pictures of the lobby area but they have all kinds of funky stuff hanging on the walls, like a bunch of shoes.
We enjoyed our $11 Bud Light and $7 Shiner (ridiculous) before the show started.

Watched the opening act: Kristy Lee.  I thought she had a really strong voice, similar to Amy Winehouse.

Then came the main act: G. Love and Special Sauce.  They, too, were really great musicians, but I was really confused by their genre.  It’s sort of Eminem meets John Mayer, just a really strange combination.  Rap meets super mellow male artist music.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.   It was too all over the place for me.

They brought Kristy Lee out to join them twice and to be honest, I thought those were the best parts of the G. Love show.  Separately, Kristy Lee and G. Love and Special Sauce were okay, but together, they were much stronger.  They  were so much more dynamic, lighting up the stage together.

While I’m not rushing out to buy G. Love and Special Sauce’s latest CD, they weren’t bad.  If I ever can get past their strange mix of genres, then I think I would listen to them again, but for now I’ll leave them as strong artists with a strange mix of sounds.

 Have any of you heard of G. Love and Special Sauce?  Love them?  Hate them?  What are your thoughts?

Sweet Potatoes And Sore Knees

I had every intention to do a big workout yesterday; running and strength training, but I woke up with a sore knee from Wednesday night’s run.  My knee has been mildly bothering my since the start of the year and I am partially blaming it on going to BodyPump classes three times a week.  Too many squats, or at least that’s the excuse I’ve justified.  It’s probably time to buy a new pair of insoles, too.  I’ve put right around 300 miles on them and the manufacturer recommends replacement every six months of average wear, not necessarily half marathon training.  So with tomorrow morning’s 10K in mind, I decided that I should take the day off from the gym to rest my knee up.

I got home before Nick, a rare occurence, and fed Jackson.  I was starting to question if he still loved me since I haven’t been his primary chef lately, but sure enough, I won him over last night with a delicious bowl of cat food!

Having fed the cat, it was time to feed the fiance and myself.  On the menu last night was Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pancetta and Broccoli Rabe, courtesy for the January issue of Food Network Magazine.  If it sounds tasty, and you want to make this dish yourself, you can find the recipe here.

I made a few adjustments.  First off, I am very lucky to have a mother who lives in Oregon and who’s husband has a hobby of hunting for mushrooms.  The result equals I get fancy and expensive mushrooms for free.  Nick is not a mushroom fan, so I don’t torture him too often with them, but this week he’s putting up with the gourmet mushrooms.  The recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, but I have a nice stash of chanterelles that required hydration.

While those were reconstituting, I made a side salad for mixed greens, cucumber, pecans, reduced fat feta, dried cherries, and kalamata olives; all tossed with a pomegranate vinaigrette I made a while back.Back to the stuffed sweet potatoes, I put the sweet potatoes in the microwave as directed and got the pancetta going in the frying pan.At this point, the mushrooms were ready.  I pulled out enough for the stuffed sweet potatoes and saved the remaining mushrooms and the broth for tonight’s (broth) and tomorrow night’s (mushrooms) dinners.Back to the pancetta, it was crispy and ready to rest on paper towels to drain the excess oil.

My second recipe modification: I couldn’t find broccoli rabe and the grocery store (as usual) so I used broccolini instead.

And added in the chanterelle mushrooms and red pepper flakes.While that was sauteing, I mixed up the ricotta, parmesan, and nutmeg.I sliced open the sweet potatoes.And put everything together.  Voila, dinner is served!Coming in at about 35o calories for the Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and roughly 150 calories for the salad, it was a tasty and satisfying dinner!  My only criticism for the Stuffed Sweet Potatoes is that the dist was a little dry, otherwise delicious!

Nick and I curled up on the couch with our plates (or bowls, rather) for a cozy dinner and Netflix and I propped my leg up for some heat therapy!

Here’s hoping the heating pad will help my knee feel fine for tomorrow’s 10K!  Tonight’s dinner is a recipe by none other than yours truly!  (I haven’t cooked with out a published or family recipe in a while so fingers crossed that it will come out well!)  Look for the recipe and the race recap this weekend!

Back To (Lunchtime) Normal

It’s day three in the new year and day one back at the office in 2012.  All the holiday treats are gone and the Fat Days are over and it’s time to get back into my normal eating routine at the office.  I would love to say that I make gourmet meals every night to bring to work the next day for lunch, and while I do make pretty tasty dinners, leftovers are rare in our house, so the lack of time and leftovers equals frozen entrees for lunch.  I’ve tried several brands: Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, Eating Right (that might be a Tom Thumb brand, but I’m not sure), just to name a few.  But by far, my favorite brand of frozen entrees is Kashi.  While they don’t claim to be diet food, the different entrees come it at right around 300 calories, give or take, depending on the entree.  I’ve tried just about all of them and love all but one that I’ve tried.

Today is Chicken Pasta Pomodoro (along with an orange and a Camelbak full or water).

While a home-cooked lunch might beat a frozen entree, I really like the Kashi entrees because they have a reasonable amount of calories and a healthy balance between protein, carbs, and fat.  They, along with my selected piece of fruit, keep me satisfied through the afternoon.

The Chicken Pasta Pomodoro isn’t my favorite though, although I do enjoy it.  I need to add a little bit of salt to this dish to make the favors pop more.  I love the Mayan Harvest Bake, and if I had to choose a favorite, I guess this would be the one.  I love the sweet plantains in it along with the kale and quinoa (ingredients that you wouldn’t find in other major frozen entree brands).  It’s also vegan, which doesn’t matter for my diet, but it’s nice to know that not every meal I eat has to have a meat product or by-product in it in order to give me the healthy  balance of proteins, carbs, and fat. Other favorites include the Lemongrass Chicken (yum, major flavor), Pesto Pasta Primavera (I love pesto and this one doesn’t disappoint), and the new Spicy Black Bean Enchilada (it’s pretty spicy for frozen entree standards).

Another big time favorite of mine is the Red Curry Chicken, but I can no longer find it.  I’m afraid the makers of Kashi may have pulled it to replace it with the new Three Cheese Penne (which I’ve tried and approve of it).  If this was the case, I’d be very disappointed.  I’m a big fan of Red Curry and while I know it’s not very healthy from Thia takeout, this is what I always order (but with tofu).  So when I came across the Kashi Red Curry Chicken, I was super excited to have the red curry flavor within a healthy calorie range.  Even better, there are sweet potatoes in it.  I’ve never had sweet potatoes in red curry before so if I attempt to make red curry at home sometime, I’ll be sure to add sweet potatoes.  Anyway, if anyone out there from Kashi is reading this, don’t get rid of my beloved Red Curry Chicken.  If you need to replace the new Three Cheese Penne, replace it with the Sweet and Sour Chicken.  I don’t like that one.  All others I approve of!  (FYI, if you are looking to try the Kashi frozen entrees, I’ve found that Target has the best selection and best price.  Central Market comes in second, with slightly fewer selections but the same price, surprisingly.  They are ridiculously over-priced at Tom Thumb and Whole Foods and Wal-Mart has only two of the entree types.  I think Kroger falls somewhere in the middle.)

What do you all eat for lunch during the week?

Hooked: SAMCRO

About a month ago, I mentioned in a blog entry that Nick and I don’t have TV.  Let me correct myself.  We have a TV, two in fact.  However we don’t pay any sort of cable bill or have rabbit ears to get the basic 13 channels.  When we turn the TV on to TV mode, it’s black and white fuzz no matter what channel we change it to.  Instead we use our Roku box to watch shows and movies through Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.  We’ve found this to be a huge savings.  I find we watch a lot less television this way and we can watch a whole season (or multiple seasons) of a show within a few weeks.  We don’t have to wait a week for the next episode to come out.  The major drawback to watching shows over Netflix or and to some degree Amazon Instant Video is that we are usually a season behind all of our friends who have cable, so we dodge conversations about the latest happenings of whichever show we are hooked on.

Running low on our favorite shows on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, I was grateful to come across a blog post over at Ten Things I Like- Ten Things I Like: Must Watch Series.  I found four shows on that post and ran over to our TV to load them in our Netflix Instant Queue.  That evening, I gave Nick the choice of which of the four we should start watching and he picked Sons of Anarchy.

We started to watch the pilot episode and I wasn’t sure if I would like the show.  It was super intense.  So graphic and intense that I thought the show must normally be on HBO or Showtime or some other premium cable network.  But to my surprise, it’s actually on FX.  (Which makes me think that there is more leniency as to what can be shown on regular television these days.  I guess a lot has changed in the last 2 years!).  Anyway, I was a little gun-shy (literally) from the first episode, but we continued to watch and I can’t get enough.

If you’ve never seen Sons of Anarchy, the basic plot revolves the motorcycle club, Sons of Anarchy also known as SAMCRO, that illegally traffics guns.  The club vice president and main character, Jackson, struggles with the original intent of the club and the direction it is currently going in.  There is great character development and although I want to hate some of the members of SAMCRO, I can’t help but really like them because of their complexities.  The storyline is so gripping that I don’t think I could wait an entire week to see the next episode if we had cable.  Nick and I normally only watch one episode of a show a night, but we’ve been so transfixed on the storyline that we’ve watched three episodes of Sons of Anarchy in a row, several nights a week.  That says a lot!  It’s like television crack, you just need a little more to get your fix.

And so I don’t go totally astray from my blog intent (which I’ve done a lot of lately), it all ties nicely back to Urban Planning as we see the relationships unravel between the law and the outlaws in the small town of Charming, CA.  The lines quickly get blurred as to what is right and wrong and from an urban planning perspective, it makes me wonder who really has to power of shaping our cities and towns.  (Oh Professor Roy Strickland, you would be so proud of my analysis of a great television show and how it relates to urban planning and urban design!)    Update- Another urban planning topic I forgot to mention which fits nicely into my analysis: In season two, eminent domain is mentioned several times…  Oh yeah, urban planning issue in mainstream television!

We just finished the last of the first two seasons last night and I was thrilled to find out that seasons three and four are available (to pay for) on Amazon Instant Video!  We will definitely be continuing on with this series.  We are HOOKED!  Thanks Ten Things I Like for the recommendation!  Oh, and if any of you were wondering what SAMCRO stands for, its Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original.  (Nick and I had to look that up on Wikipedia.  If it was obviously stated in the show, we somehow missed it.)

Do any of you out there reading this have great Netflix TV show recommendations that you are hooked on?  We are always looking to add to our instant queue!