Tag Archives: food

Weekend Brunch

I’ve been cooking up a storm this weekend, tearing my way through Ellie Krieger’s The Good You Crave.  

It started out with the Blueberry Blast Smoothie

 I had a bag of frozen mixed berries so I used those instead of just frozen blueberries.  Nick thought the smoothies were too yogurt-y.  He’s partial to his Smoothie King smoothies which don’t have any yogurt in them (at least the smoothie he orders every time doesn’t), but I thought they reminded me of my favorite Jamba Juice smoothie which does have yogurt in it, so I thought this recipe came out great.

Next up, Scrumptious Scramble.  This was pretty simple, but was loaded with flavor.  I’ve made this before, in the summer-time, when tomatoes are at their peak, and it was better then, but I still really enjoyed it this time around.

I served the eggs with these amazing Apple-Pecan Muffins.  Having made these for the first time, I am now compelled to bake more.  The secret ingredient to keeping the fat down in these muffins (which is probably no secret at all) was apple sauce.  They came out so light and fluffy.  I’m in love with them!

And last, but not least, Energy Bars.  They made the whole house smell sweet and delicious as they baked in the oven.  Nick approves of these and they are much cheaper to make than buying a box of energy bars at the grocery store, so I’m sure this will become a regular item in our household!


La Madeleine Inspiration

Last Thursday evening I had a Delta Gamma Foundation of Dallas meeting at La Madeleine.  These meetings have a tendency to drag of forever so I made sure to order dinner.  Typically, when I know that I will be eating out, I go online and look at menus ahead of time.  Otherwise, I’ll spend way too long trying to decide what I want while the waiter or waitress is impatiently tapping on his/her note pad waiting for me to order.  Having a plan ahead of time spares everyone the agony of my decision-making process.  Last Thursday was no different.  I had a plan to order the Turkey Bistro sandwich, however once I arrived to La Madeleine, I saw all the flashy signs for new entrees.  So new, they aren’t even on the website yet!  The pictures scrolled on their electronic screen of the new dishes and my mouth began to water when I saw the new pork dish.  I wish I could remember what it was called exactly (since it’s still not online yet), but it was something like Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Vegetables.  Yum!  Of course my original plan totally changed and I ordered this new pork dish.  The guy at the register even said it was amazing, so it was an easy switch.

My buzzer finally went off signaling me to get my newly anticipated Balsamic Glazed Pork.  Just as the menu described, it came with roasted vegetables and a quinoa salad.  The meeting began and I enjoyed my dinner.  Losing concentration on the topic at hand, my thoughts quickly went to, “I can totally make this at home!” and “In fact, I can build on it, adding other veggies like brussels sprouts and cauliflower.”  I spent most of the two-hour meeting thinking about recreating this yummy dinner and before I knew it, it was time to head home!

Fast forward a few days, I stocked up the refrigerator and went to town making my La Madeleine inspiration.  While I don’t have an exact recipe for you yet (I’m horrible about measuring things and it still needs a little tweaking anyway) plan on seeing one soon!  But in the meantime, here are a few snapshots of my version of Balsamic Glazed Pork with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad!
Balsamic vinegar simmering and reducing down to a nice thick glaze

The one of the biggest heads of cauliflower I’ve ever seen (and it was the smallest one at the grocery store)!  This picture doesn’t do justice as to how large this cauliflower is!  The sign at the grocery store said it’s from Texas.  As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas!

The finished product.

 And the all important close up shot!

I’m working on my photography skills.  As you can see, I haven’t mastered the art of making food look amazing.  It doesn’t help that you can see the paper towels, soap, and dish scrubber in the background!  Ha!  Eventually I’ll upgrade to using a real camera instead of my phone to take all these lovely pictures, but for now, you’ll have to use your imagination and know that most everything I whip up is pretty yummy despite poor picture quality!  Nick can attest to that, too.

Thai Takeout Fake Out

Thai Takeout Fake Out was actually on Friday night, but the weekend has gotten away from once again and I am just now getting it up on the blog!  So let’s get started.  I announced to Nick that we would be having Thai Takeout Fake Out for dinner.  He would be having Taste of Basil with Pork and I would be having Red Curry with Tofu.  Missing the “Fake Out” portion of the Thai Takeout Fake Out, he thought I had already decided on what he’d be ordering from our favorite Thai takeout place, Best Thai.  Granted, he usually orders Taste of Basil with Pork, he thought I was being presumptuous for picking out what he’d be ordering.  I clarified that we weren’t going to order takeout, I’d be making these dishes, hence “Takeout Fake Out”.

Inspired by a recent post over at Eat, Live, Run, I decided to make Red Curry with Tofu for me.  I used Jenna’s Fire Pot Soup recipe to create the foundation for my curry sauce, but instead of making the recipe exactly as she wrote it, I referred to my Best Thai takeout menu for additional veggies to add.
Chopped up and ready for the sauté pan are sweet potatoes (not on the Best Thai menu, but I added this from inspiration from the Kashi Red Curry Chicken entry), green and red bell peppers, zucchini, and garlic.
The diced sweet potato hit the heat for about 5 minutes.
I added the bell peppers and continued to sauté for another 5 minutes.
And into the pan went the zucchini and garlic for 3 more minutes. Once the veggies were mostly tender with a little bit of crunch left in them, I set them aside and moved onto sautéing the tofu.
I let the tofu get nice and golden on the outside, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  Once the tofu had a nice, crisp exterior, I set it aside with the veggies and it was onto the curry broth.  At this point I began to really refer to Jenna’s Fire Pot Soup post.
I mashed the red curry paste and oil together.
Into the pan went the light coconut milk and chicken broth.  I deviated from Jenna’s broth at the point, adding  only 3/4 a cup of chicken broth because I wanted it to be more of a sauce than a soup.
I added regular basil (instead of Thai basil, since I already had it on hand, lemongrass and two dried Thai chilies.  I couldn’t find fresh Thai chilies so I figured these would work well enough.
I added the veggies and tofu and let the flavors meld together while I got working on Nick’s Thai Takeout Fake Out dish.  His Taste of Basil with Pork recipe came pretty much directly from Leite’s Culinaria Thai Basil Pork (Pad Gkaprow Mu) with the few minor  substitutions of regular basil instead of Thai basil, tamari sauce instead of regular soy sauce, and dried chilies instead of fresh ones.
Chopped onion and garlic.
Into the pan they go!
Along with the pork.
And the chilies and sauces.
Stir in the basil and it’s done!

Thai Takeout Fake Out was a success.  Our dishes didn’t taste exactly like Best Thai takeout, but they came pretty close and they were probably a healthier too, since I had control of the ingredients.  While picking up the phone and calling the Thai place (which is programmed into my phone) is pretty convenient, making these dishes was actually a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to making more Thai Takeout Fake Outs in the future.

Have you successfully recreated any of your favorite restaurant or takeout dishes?

Hotcake Hustle to Crab Cakes Benedict

A whole slew of events happened Friday afternoon that turned the day from fine to really, really bad so I wasn’t in the mood to cook my ever so exciting recipe from moi.  Instead, we carb’ed up on pizza.  Friday’s turn of events had me so upset, that I questioned going to the Hotcake Hustle in the morning.  Nick reassured me that we didn’t have to go, but I told him that we were still going to run in the race, although I was 100% not feeling up for it.  I’ll fill you in on the catastrophic turn of events eventually, I promise, but for now, just know that I was not having a very good day at all.

The alarm went off bright and early.  7am to be exact, although I had been wide awake since 5am, processing the events from the day before.  Nick and I got layered up and headed out to Addison Circle.  Dodging through the crowd to find the bag check, we somehow managed to find Drake, an old co-worker of mine.  Well, actually, he found us.  Drake ran this race the year before and he warned us about the bridge over Midway Road.  The race course is a there-and-back kind of deal, so lucky for Nick, he only had to run over the bridge twice.  Drake and I were part of the 10K group, so that meant four times over the stinking bridge.  Going into the race, I was not too excited about the course.  I knew it wasn’t going to be scenic and only a quarter of it would be new “scenery” if you can even call it that, since I’d see it three more times in the loops.  The gun shot and we were off.  I quickly discovered that on the upside, being where it was, there was a lot of room on the road, so I got moving quickly.  Nick took off and I lost him until about a half a mile in.  Before I knew it, we were turning around and heading back.  I longed to turn off and go to the finish line but instead, I turned around once again and headed back as I waved goodbye to Nick.  I just wanted the second loop to be over.  There was no mystery left to it and I was bored, but my Nike+ GPS reported back to me a pace that I wasn’t expecting, so I kept pushing through.  The Bridge at Midway road didn’t start to bother me until crossing it for the last time.  Nick and I had climbed steeper hills and bridges for other races, so my anticipation wasn’t near as bad.  But the last crossing of the bridge drained me.  I was so over the course.  I wanted to stop and walk, but I kept telling myself if I walk, I’ll be mad at myself.  I made it over the bridge and was on the home stretch, about half a mile to go!  To my surprise, there were a bunch of walkers doing the 5K who were just ahead of me, right before the turn to the finish line.  The finish line was in sight and it was time to pick up the speed.  Irritated by the band of walkers in my way (like five or six of them), I yelled out (probably louder than I should have) “MOVE”.  I got a couple of dirty looks, but hey, don’t take up the whole road as walkers in a race, it’s a pain for those actually trying to run past you, I’m just saying.

So there was the finish line and Nick waiting to capture it all on his phone.  (And shoot, I’m trying to upload the video, but it won’t let me, so you all will have to wait to watch it.)  The last glance of the clock at the finish line said 57:15.  Woohoo, under an hour (and that’s just the unofficial time)!  We met up with Drake and his friend at the line for pancakes, but gave up about half way through the line and headed home to see the official time: 56:40!  Almost under a 9 minute mile.  The icing on the cake for the race was I came in at #13 out of 72 for my age group for the 10K.  What an awesome feeling to have done so well.  It helps that I just jumped from the 25-29 age group to the 30-34 age group, but heck, I’ll take it!

I treated Nick to one of his favorite dinners for being such a good sport and doing the race with me as well as putting up with me being so upset the day before: Stuffed Peppers Santa Cruz Style, courtesy of Recipes From a Kitchen Garden
And a side salad to go along with the stuffed peppers.
It made for a tasty dinner after a great race.

But wait, it doesn’t end there!  More food is in store!  Nick tried to trick me to sleep in on Sunday, but as usual, his attempts failed.  The trick usually entails closing all the blinds and curtains to make the bedroom super dark.  I have a strong internal clock, so I was awake by 7:30, my typical sleeping in time.  I try to be kind on mornings when he wants to sleep in by getting out of bed and going to the living room to read or start on some chores, but to my surprise, Nick was wide awake shortly after me.  As if Saturday night’s stuffed peppers hadn’t stuffed me to the brim, I asked him if he wanted to go out for breakfast and of course the answer was yes!

We decided on the Coffee House Cafe, a relatively new restaurant that is just down the street from us (but we still have to drive to get there).  We’ve been there once before and enjoyed it so we made another go at it.  If you live in North Dallas, I recommend you try the Coffee House Cafe.  It’s not a chain that is typical of this neck of the woods.  The breakfast menu has a lot of interesting items on it, the wait staff is very friendly (thanks for serving us, Georgio!), and the decor is well done- part rustic, part contemporary, all warm and welcoming!

Nick and I started off with drinks.  An Irish Coffee for him and a Bloody Mary for me.
Not able to decide what to get, I asked Georgio what he recommended.  I took his advice of the Crab Cakes Benedict.
Two crab cakes sat on top pieces of toast and were topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, accompanied with a side of breakfast potatoes.  The crab cakes were loaded with fresh herbs.  Nick said that the herbs were a little too overpowering over the crab, but I thought they tasted fresh and unique.  The dish was very filling and I barely made it through the first Crab Cake Benedict, but Nick was happy to help me finish the second one.  (Oh, and in case you are curious, Nick ordered the Challah French Toast Sandwich.  That was really yummy, mixing savory and sweet flavors.)  I’ve really enjoyed the two visits to the Coffee House Cafe and hope to visit the “neighborhood” joint more often!

Do you have a favorite neighborhood breakfast spot that you frequent?  What do you love about the place?

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!

Crazy CAD Monkey

I debated on what to write about today, finally deciding on sharing my workspace with you all.  First off, it’s lunchtime (my usual blog writing time), so I’ve got my Kashi Spicy Black Bean Enchilada ready and waiting for me to eat.  (I’ve already scarfed it down and have moved onto the apple.)

Since right around the holidays, I’ve been working on and off on a project that I refer to as The Suburban Hell Project.  Well, I haven’t actually called the project out loud to anyone here at work, but that’s what I call to myself.  If you couldn’t tell, I’m not so fond of the project!
(Again, sorry for the poor picture quality.  I’m limited to the camera on my phone.)  I have two monitors so I can spread my work out and easily move between programs.  Working at an architecture firm, I pretty much only use AutoCAD (open on the left monitor), Adobe Photoshop (open on the right monitor),  and Adobe InDesign, along with a few other programs used here and there.

I get a lot of curious looks from people when I tell them I’m an urban planner.  The first question I get asked is, “What’s an urban planner?”  It’s a very broad profession that can cover quite a lot, but the best explanation I’ve come up with in regards to my current job is that I count parking spaces.  All the work I’ve done here is very dependant on the car; screw the people, all that matters are if there enough parking spaces in the design.  Or at least that’s how I’ve (sarcastically) learned to approach my part in the part in the architectural design process.  I think the car is the devil.  It’s a devil that we can’t live without, just like plastic (but I’ll save that devilish rant for another blog entry).  As a society, we are so dependant on cars that they drive the design of our communities.  (No pun intended).  There is some crazy statistic that for every car in the U.S. there are eight parking spaces.  That’s a lot of asphalt!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have eight homes?  You could have a home on the beach, in the mountains, in the city, in the country, in the north, in the south, and two other great places.  Well, every car in America has eight homes.  Aren’t all those cars lucky!?

Okay, you get my point.  Moving on.  I try to keep my desk neat.  I can’t stand clutter.  It makes me feel out of control.  (OCD issue, I know.)
I’ve got an assortment of papers taped to my overhead storage for quick reference.  There’s my 2012 calendar that Nick made me which has yet to be hung up, my water, banana, and a box of Kashi Granola Bars.  There are also two books on my desk which I bought and “donated” to the office library, but I’m thinking of bringing them home.  And last is my paper storage bin.  I used to keep this on the other side of my desk (area shown in the next picture), but one of my bosses kept moving it every time he came to explain a new project to me.  Well, you know me and my order.  He kept messing with my order and it drove me so crazy I had to move the damn paper storage bin to the other side of my desk so this particular boss would quit moving it every time he came over to talk to me.  (OCD again.  I can’t help it!)
The other side of my desk (where the paper storage bin used to live).  Here, I have a rescued bamboo plant, tissues, and a bobble-head that I picked up at a conference a long time ago.  I also have my running scheduled taped down to the desk (so nobody can move it) for quick reference, although I have my workouts memorized by heart.

To my back is a window…. leading out to the beautiful parking lot.  Look!  Homes for all those cars!  I’m a hypocritical urban planner.  I have a car out there in the parking lot.  In fact, not only is it a car, but it’s a gas-guzzling SUV.  But to my defense, I got it when I was in Michigan and Four-Wheel Drive was more appropriate there.  Besides, I might not stand a chance of survival in anything smaller than an SUV if I were to ever get in a car accident in Texas.   Everything is bigger in Texas, including the cars!  I keep radiating towards talking about cars today for some reason.  Back to the window.  I’m happy and very fortunate to sit by a window. I know Nick’s office is miserable without any windows in sight.  When I first started working here, I sat in the middle of the studio (Studios are what architects call architecture offices) without any natural daylight by me.  I found it very depressing and jumped on the opportunity to move to a desk by the window.

Below my desk is my computer (to save precious desk space) and a blanket.  I know, the blanket is very dirty being on the floor, but it serves a purpose being there.  As you can see, we have concrete floors (über architectural), but unfortunately the exposed garage is right below this floor, without any insulation.  The floor is VERY cold, which leads to cold toes.  So I put the blanket on the floor as my impromptu insulation.  It helps.

And to round out my workspace (I know it’s been a trilling tour and you all are sad for it to end) is this cute holiday card I got over the holidays from another architect friend.
 A cityscape!  What a perfect holiday card for an urban planner.  I think I might try to recreate the card using my graphic know-how and give it out myself next holiday season!

And that concludes the tour of a crazy CAD Monkey’s workspace!

The Teeny Tiny Inefficient Kitchen

Last week I mentioned that Nick and I have a very small kitchen.  Well, I thought I would share with you all just how small it is with a 360-degree tour.  (I should make a little side note that I’m just a little, okay scratch that, very obsessive-compulsive when it comes to order.  So in being in a tight, inefficient space, I find that if oder isn’t kept, all hell breaks loose!)
So this is probably the best shot to show the entire kitchen.  I was standing at the edge of the fridge, at the entry of the laundry area, when I took it.  This, actually isn’t the smallest kitchen I’ve ever had in all my living arrangements.  My cute, little apartment on E. Kingsley St in Ann Arbor wins that prize, but this kitchen is by far the most inefficient as far as storage comes!
There is a nice greenhouse-style window, which bakes in the Texas summers.  I’ve put plenty of herbs up there, but without daily attention in the summer, they fry.  Now growing: Jackson’s christmas present- Cat Grass.   It should be ready in another day or two for him to chomp on.

Under the sink there are the typical items you would find under the sink: household cleaners, garbage bags, tin foil, plastic wrap, etc.  I  didn’t take a picture of that, since it’s pretty standard to most kitchens.  The door just to the left of the sink doors is where all the pots and pans live.

It’s a deep space, but again, inefficient.  All the pots and pans I use regularly are up front and all the pots and pans that I wished I used more regularly and way in the back and the only way to get to them is to take everything out.  This area is critical to my need for order.  While Nick is OCD in his own ways, order isn’t exactly one of his obsessions; at least not on a daily basis.  So, bless his heart, when he empties the dish washer and puts the pots and pans away, I usually have to reorganize them to get them back in their appropriate order.Directly above the cabinet with the pots and pans is where I keep non-refrigerated perishable items as well as the spill over from the non-perishable items.  It drives me crazy that I can’t put all of the non-perishable items away (again, messing with my need for order), but most of them will be used during the week they arrive on the counter, so I let it be.  Christmas brought new challenges to the non-perishable item storage, since a friend of Nick’s dad sent us a ton of assorted treats from New Mexico.  Half of them are still sitting on the counter, taunting me every day.
Directly above the counter is where almost all of the drink-ware lives.  Nick loves the big plastic cups because they are so big.  I drink out of the pint glasses that I’ve “collected”over the years from various restaurants and bars.  The only glasses that don’t live here are wine glasses.  They have a separate home.
Moving on, to the left of the drink-ware shelves is where most of the non-perishable items get stashed.  It’s pretty crammed, but Nick’s Crystal Light lives up front.  We go through so much of that stuff, it’s crazy.  I can’t stand the stuff, but Nick has a special place in his heart for Crystal Light.  Above the microwave, we have an assorted collection of baking items.  Not much will fit up here because the vent runs through this spot.
To the left of the microwave is probably the most useless space out of all the cabinet storage.  It’s only a couple of inches wide, and houses tea and measuring cups.  I forgot to take a picture of the mirror cabinet below the counter, but you should be able to visualize from the size of the tea and measuring cup cabinet.  The one below is where cutting boards, cooking racks, and baking sheets live.
I’ve lined the opening between the kitchen and dining area with cookbooks.  (And a small cork collection.)Right by the dining area is the main pantry area.  Between cat food, the trash can, herbs and spices, oils and vinegar, Tupperware, a dutch oven, plates, bowls, and serving dishes, and the wine rack and wine glasses, the pantry area is plenty full.  And the last stop on the 360-degree tour of the teeny, tiny inefficient kitchen is the fridge!
It’s very full here, as I had just gotten back from the grocery store!  This is our newest addition to the kitchen appliances, just arriving this past summer.  Had I started this blog before the new fridge, that surely would have been an entry on its own as what was supposed to be a simple switch, turned into a huge ordeal and Nick was sawing off the cabinet above with a tool that probably wasn’t intended for that type of project.  Anyway, the new fridge brought its own inefficiencies, but we’ve gotten used to it and have made things work, just like the rest of the kitchen!  Just as long as nobody messes with my order!

Do you have any issues with your kitchen?  How do you make it work to fit your needs?