Archive for January, 2011

28
Jan
11

Shortcut? Not quite.

I love to bake breads.  Crusty artisan breads. Flavorful quick breads. Traditional holiday breads.  So I guess I sort of took a short cut when I whipped up something from a frozen bread dough.  I wouldn’t quite consider this a true shortcut, however, because it was equally as complicated labor-intensive as any of the aforementioned recipes.  The only downside to this dough was that it was so glutinous that it resisted rolling, but it finally caved to my intentions.

Truth be told, I really just waned to see if it came out as good as my own, kneaded bread.  I’ve only attempted 1 recipe, but it was so much fun that more will surely follow.  And yes, the bread itself might just be made (and then frozen) by someone else!

Cinnamon Nut Twists

 1 loaf frozen white or whole wheat bread dough
2 Tbs butter, melted
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C walnuts or pecans, chopped
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Defrost bread loaf. Roll into a rectangle, approximately 8" x 12".

Brush dough liberally with melted butter, reserving about 25%.

 

In small bowl, combine cinnamon, sugar and nuts. Sprinkle over dough and press down firmly.

 

Fold dough in half and pinch edges to seal. Press down firmly again on entire half.

 

Cut dough into 12 slices with a sharp knife or pizza cutter (You will get spillage at this point - don't worry!).

 

Twist each slice twice and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush with remaining butter and sprinkle with any nut mixture that may have spilled.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and serve warm!

I wish I could say that was my serving, but I reserved those for my parents.  It was cinnamony taste and aroma heaven and totally worth the little shortcut.. or as I like to think of it, alternative method of baking!  Most of the twists ventured into work for a surprise breakfast for the girls and they got raves.

I skipped indulging in this one.  My stomach was full of another version of some green stuff.

1 1/2 C spinach, 1 small apple, 1 small carrot and 1 serving lite silken tofu. Nom nom nom!

I’m fully energized from my cardio and shoulder workout this morning.  No shortcuts there!

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27
Jan
11

My heart belongs to the green..

This green

How I do love just staring at him.  Tom Brady who?!  I am pretty darn excited about staring at him on February 6th too!  Yay Packers!!

But that’s not the “green” I am really in love with.  It’s this one –

That would be my first ever Green MonsterAngela very recently celebrated her 2nd anniversary and I decided to celebrate right along side by “attempting” to make one.  As a fan of spinach in both raw and cooked forms, and an expert on the taste of spinach, I was definitely not convinced that a shake containing so much spinach could mask that flavor.

I stand corrected.

Heidi’s Original Green Monster

2 servings lite silken tofu (192 grams of Nasoya)
3 C fresh spinach
1 small carrot (about 35 g)
1 small Fuji apple (about 90 g)
1/2 C water
1 dropper of liquid stevia

Throw it all in a blender.  Turn it on high and let ‘er rip.  This part required patience as it took a few minutes to come together.

Holy greenness was this AMAZING?!  I liked the little bit of richness and extra protein from the tofu. It stuck with me all afternoon too.  Yes, it looks quite icky, but all I tasted was the sweet tart apple and carrot combo.  The Green Monster is here to stay!  In fact, I picked up half of Trader Joe’s spinach supply today.  True story.

I had an awesome cardio, chest and back workout today so I do believe I need some recovery nutrition .  Forgive me for being brief, but I crave some green.  Since it likely won’t be in the form of Aaron Rodgers, a Monster will just have to do!

19
Jan
11

Cats & Crunch

I get to spend this week with 2 little rascals –

I’m watching Norris & Jack while my parents enjoy the sunshine and warm breezes of the Bahamas.  Lucky them.. but lucky me too!  I love these guys.  They’re almost like dogs trapped in cat bodies.  I’d love to have some cats at our own place, but the pet deposit is ridiculous.

In any case, me + 2 cats mean that I am making a lot of single-lady meals.  For the past 2 nights it’s been easy throw-together stir fry.

A bit of chicken breast, a whole bag of spinach and Trader Joe’s Hodge Podge frozen veggies.  Yum!  I can’t complain about single meals and the kitties to keep me company while I’m away from the hubby.

Of course, I have to keep myself busy and that involves lots of cross stitching and a bit of baking.  I whipped up something this morning to appease my coworkers.  Rumor has it that they were getting antsy for another baked good.  I got my fill of cookies at Christmas so coffee cake it was!

Cinnamon Crunch Coffeecake

Cast of Characters

3/4 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 C all-purpose flour
1 C plain nonfat Greek yogurt
Streusel:
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
3/4 C chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and vanilla until well combined. 

Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Then, beat in flour and yogurt, alternating additions.

Spoon into a lightly greased 9×13 pan. 

In small bowl, combine streusel ingredients and mix well.  Sprinkle over top batter.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until topping is dark, golden brown.

Let cool slightly.  Slice and enjoy!

Crunchy and soft – 2 very good things!  I think the girls at work will be pleased.

11
Jan
11

Killer Kettlebells

I am very sorry, Mr. Spinning Bike.  I just cannot ever fall in love with you the way that I have with my dear friend, the kettlebell. In fact, I took the rest of my CSN winnings (Thanks again, Lily!) and bought a fun toy!

It has found a permanent place next to the tv in our bedroom and gets used at least once a week along side Ms. Jillian Michaels.  I wish she were here to train me, but I have to tune in to Exercise TV on demand to find her kettlebell workout.  It’s a seriously fun 30 minutes!  Not only that, but my gym has several classes each week and they are killer!!  Most enjoyable, but man.. do I feel them the next day!  I really wish I had found kettlebells sooner.  You can’t really beat a strength and cardio workout in one!

I hit a 45-minute kettlebell class this morning.  It’s an awesome format, but was so crowded.  Ugh.. resolutioners.  Good for them for wanting to get motivated, but must it be at 5am?  I have learned to love the quiet of a gym at this early hour.

The class starts with about 5 minutes of group warm up – torso twists, halos, swings – then we split into 5 or 6 stations and each exercise is done for 2 minutes for a total of 10 to 12 different exercises.  We finish with another 10-15 minutes of group work, repeating 5 or 6 of those same exercises.  Like I said, it’s killer.  I usually always burn between 600 and 700 calories in those 45 minutes.  (Is that enough numbers for you in 1 paragraph?!)

Speaking of numbers, my 2004 Toyota hit an awesome number on the odometer this morning on my way in to the gym:

Yes, I did say 2004 – a 7-year-old car has that many miles.. on the original engine and transmission.  You won’t ever catch me saying anything bad about Toyota!

I’m feeling super exhausted this morning so I’m planning to take it easy until work, which means dinner will be made by the crockpot, along with a new Trader Joe’s find!

I threw this in with some chicken and plan to shred it all up tonight when I get home and throw it on some tortillas with assorted toppings.  Can’t wait for the taste test!

PS – Lily is doing it again!  She’s having another CSN giveaway, so get your bootie on over there and enter to win (or don’t.. less people for me to compete with!).

06
Jan
11

Tofu Timidity

I am far from timid when it comes to using firm tofu.  In fact, I WISH I had one of these puppies so that I had an excuse to cook it more often.  I did pick up something new this afternoon, however.

I haven’t done anything with silken tofu before, but after this morning’s hour-long cardio session, I really wanted a thick, refreshing smoothie and I have seen many a blogger smoothie made with tofu.  It was my time and I think I did purty darn good!

Tropical Tofu Treat

50 g silken firm tofu
1/2 C frozen pineapple chunks
1 clementine, peeled and sectioned
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp guar gum
splash of sugar free vanilla syrup
4-5 ice cubes
 
Throw in a blender and blend the heck out of it until thick and smooth.  Bottoms up!

I knew it wouldn’t quite fill me up for lunch so I also indulged in 1/2 pint of Arctic Zero Chocolate Peanut Butter.  Tried this stuff yet?  It’s deeeelicious and doesn’t provoke guilt when I eat the whole thing.  I questioned the actual nutritional content (and emailed the company) because the numbers didn’t quite add up when I calculated the amount of carb, fat and protein grams and how many calories each gram produces.  Their response is right on the website:

“Looking at the previous pints of Arctic Zero (ie. 128 and 136 calorie pints), one had to ask whether the calorie count was off. How did one serving of a pint of “Chocolate” provide 32 calories per serving when it had 11 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein? Shouldn’t it have been 60 calories?

We would get the standard 4 calories per gram nutrition question several times per day (I was one of those questions). Per the FDA requiring us to do so, we had to list total carbs on the label regardless of whether they had an impact. In addition to our proprietary ingredients, we also utilized the patented Whey Low sweetener that had been on the market for more than a decade. Whey Low contains 75% fewer calories than traditional sugar, and because only 25% is absorbed by the body and it has a 70-80% lower glycemic index to boot.”

I haven’t read too much on Whey Low, but I intend to.  It almost sounds too good to be true because it sure is yummy!   How can they prove how much is absorbed and processed? I’d love any info if anyone has experience with Whey Low sweetener.  So far, I’ve tried this flavor, Chocolate and Cookies N’ Cream.  I prefer the C N’ C, but it’s harder to find.  I really want to get ahold of the Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Maple flavors.

Today turned into an unplanned meat-free day and I feel great!  I had apple-cinnamon custard oats and yogurt for breakfast and dinner and am currently munching on a giant bowl of hot popcorn with salt and garlic powder. These meat-free days are going to be far easier for me than for Steve, but that’s ok.  I am definitely ready to experiment in the kitchen.  And even if he never caves to those whims… Well, more tofu for me!

 

06
Jan
11

New Frontiers

I have not been to a (strictly) vegan or vegetarian restaurant since approximately 2002.  I had ventured up to northern VA to visit my dear Pamela and she introduced me to Sunflower restaurant.  I’m fairly certain that it was my first attempt at eating tofu in the form of their Sweet & Sour Sensation and I vividly remember savoring the leftovers for lunch the next day.  Without that experience, I would not have been nearly as eager to try Quenna’s Raw & Vegan restaurant when she suggested it last week.

We visited for lunch one afternoon and were welcomed into a small, yet warm and inviting space with an open view of the kitchen and a handful of cozy tables.  It was perfect for spending a few hours catching up with one another while enjoying lunch at a slower pace.  We split the seaweed appetizer, described as

“Marinated Kush (Bulgur Wheat), Crushed Dried Hot Peppers, Onions, Garlic, and Parsley wrapped in Nori Seaweed”

The filling was perfectly spicy and very hearty.  Even splitting this dish, it would have sufficed for a full meal!

For my entree, I ordered the Mushroom Madness sandwich:

“Mushrooms, Marinated Tofu, Onions, Romaine Lettuce, Carrots, Beets, Spinach, Alfalfa Sprouts, Sesame Dressing and Tomato Sauce in a Pocketbook”

Holy moly! The veggies were deliciously crisp and fresh (the best beets I have ever had!) and the pita bread was perfectly soft with a great flavor.  I would LOVE to know exactly how she prepares the tofu as well.  It had a ton of flavor (I detected dill, but couldn’t pick out anything else) and was so filling!!  Pam ordered the Olamex burger

“Kush (Bulgur Wheat) marinated in Tomato Sauce, Marinated Tofu,Mushrooms, Onions, Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Carrots, Beets, Spinach,Alfalfa Sprouts and Sesame Dressing in a Pocketbook”

This also had the kush that was in the seaweed appetizer, and a taste of the tofu that I had in my sandwich.  We were so impresssed with the combination of fresh veggies, the sauces and the bread.  I will certainly be back – I just wish there was way to successfully ship their food to Miami where Pam resides.  I know she would absolutely love it!

I’d say the full-on yumminess of those photos would be inspirational right?  It was for me, so I got my butt into the kitchen and whipped up some of my own marinated kush (bulgur wheat).

I started with this:

 

and ended up with this:

I literally giggled when I tried a bite and Belly-Laughing Bulgur was born.  It even took me only one container, one knife and one cutting board to make – so easy!

Belly-Laugh Bulgur

1 C dry bulgur wheat
2 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
1 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsps Bragg Aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
1 C warm water
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1/2 C shredded carrots
In large bowl (or container), pour in bulgur.  Sprinkle in garlic and seasonings and add Aminos (or soy sauce) and water.  Stir and allow to sit until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. 
Pre-soak

Post-soak

Meanhwile, chop parsley, dice onion and shred carrots. 
Stir into bulgur and refrigerate. 

The longer it sits in the fridge, the better it gets.  I’m on day #3 and it tastes amazing!  HEARTY belly-laugh amazing.  I can’t wait to use this method and change up the veggies and flavors, depending on the seasons.  I think a southwest version is on the agenda – with fresh cilantro, onion and tomatoes.  Those meat-free days are gonna be a piece of cake (or a piece of tasty tofu).

04
Jan
11

A new year. A new taste.

I feel like I just said that to 2010 and, suddenly, here we are again.  It really is a true kick-in-the-ass to see that 12 whole months has already flown by and here I am, forced to consider what I actually accomplished in those 12 months.  Did I actually meet or surpass the goals that I had established for myself last January.  Let’s discuss that, shall we?

1. Continue improving my health – I’d say this is partial pass and partial fail.  I definitely was lacking in backslides – in fact, there were several and they manifested themselves in different ways. I did find new ways to work on my physical well-being.  I delved into kettlebells, returned to spinning (although I’ve only been twice in the past several weeks.. it’s a start), regained my love of dark chocolate (1 square daily) and finally admitted to my husband that I can eat things with fat in them and be okay with myself.  It won’t kill me and I will not gain all of my weight back. 

2. Find the positive in all things – When I wrote this goal last year, I did not realize how all-encompassing and difficult it would be.  Remaining positive ALL THE TIME is terribly difficult if not impossible.  How silly was I to think I could do this consistently?!  Granted, there are plenty of occasions that I was content “being in the negative” and those were the times that I needed to stick with this goal most.  I definitely need to be able to dissect any situation or obstacle and see what good things can result.  Noted.

3. Strengthen my relationships – Done!  Many times over! I definitely formed stronger bonds with my husband’s family during our time in Hawaii.  Not only that, but I learned about some of my weaknesses while there and faced them with Steve.  We became closer through those moments and, even after nearly 10 years together, I think that he knows how to push me past those weaknesses.  I definitely had to rely on my own family this year through personal financial struggles.  Before that, I knew that they would always be there for me and they proved it.  I could not survive without my parents, my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle.  I love them more than I will ever be able to tell them – more than I will ever be able to show through actions.

With last years successes (and slip-ups) in mind, it took me a few days to decide what I wanted to accomplish this year – some very detailed goals and some broader goals. Without further ado..

2011 To-Do’s

1. Get the heck out of this condo – We’ve had innumerable issues (parking, toilets) with this place but the ac/heat issues were the icing on the cake.  Our landlord yanked us around and around before finally agreeing to completely replace our unit.  He wouldn’t even give us a rental discount  to offset our outrageous bills. Two years here will be more than enough!  I’d like to be in the position to buy a place this summer, but we’ll see..

2.   Complete a 10K – The longest distance I have run (without stopping) is just over a 5K.  Given my knee issues, that was a bit of a struggle, but I look forward to pushing myself outside of the gym as hard as I do when I am inside!

3.  Get out of credit card debt – Not including student loans, I have about $6,500 in credit card debt.  I paid that down in the past year, but I also spent a good deal of the year unemployed so the balance crept back up again.  I now have a steadier income and I think this is totally doable!  I can’t imagine how good it will feel to not have to pay this monthly nuisance on top of loans!

4. Take steps to finish my M.S. or a certificate program – I shortchanged myself in 2009 when I let student teaching keep me 7 credits shy of finishing my Master’s degree.  If I don’t complete it this year, rejoin the program or enter a medical certification program (to supplement my Biology degree), I will definitely be disappointed in myself.

5. Cook more vegetarian/vegan meals for the husband & I – I discovered a few days ago that I can make some killer vegan food (recipe to come).  I’d like to cook at least one meatless dinner each week (not necessarily on Mondays) and create meals that even my husband will love.  This could be hard.. he’s a straight-laced eater who could live off of Taco Bell and Subway and generally eats one of those options daily and would be perfectly happy with soup and sandwich every night.  Here’s to broadening our horizons!

I think these are perfectly attainable goals and I am very excited about working towards them this year.  It promises to be a good one – especially if my Omah’s New Year’s Day luck repeats.  We scratched about $25 worth of scratchers and ended up with $254!  We are 2 women who never win a thing, so it was pretty darn exhilarating! 

Welcome, 2011!  I sure hope you’re good to everyone this year.




Hi Ya’ll!

Hiya! I'm Heidi, a 28-year-old "retired" student living in Virginia. I am a newlywed and currently on the hunt for a full-time job that will use either my Biology or Secondary Education degree. In the meantime, I work in retail and at an event venue part-time. When I'm not working, I love to kill hours at the gym, scrapbook, and act as a domesticated diva to keep my hubby happy!