Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix

I hate this Superbowl. I'm a bit of a football junkie and I have pretty strong feelings about certain things.  Like..how I hate the Giants.  Mostly, Eli Manning.  I think he is a spoiled, entitled ass who never takes blame for his mistakes, but has no trouble taking credit for success (like when he threw a terrible pass, but his receiver caught it one handed AGAINST HIS HELMET and won the Superbowl - and Eli was MVP).  My main reason? "However, Manning stated publicly that he would refuse to play for the Chargers if drafted by them."  Um...you shouldn't get that choice.  You are NOT your brother. 
As for the Patriots...not a huge fan of the team itself, but I definitely have some respect.  The Steelers mostly can't beat them (especially with the "clock error" in 2005 that gave the Pats and extra 50-something seconds to score and win).  But considering the match up, I'll be rooting for you, Dead Eyes (that's Tom Brady)....

Need a Superbowl snack?  I made an awesome Chex Mix last weekend - and I converted it to a gluten-free recipe.  The original recipe for Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix can be found here, but my gluten-free option is better, because you can use any add-ins that you already have in your pantry and it has chocolate).  

Gluten-Free Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix

3 cups of Rice Chex (I just poured from the box)
1 cup Cinnamon Chex (optional)
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup pepitas or other nut
1 cup GF sesame sticks or GF pretzels
1/2 cup GF crackers, broken (it was the bottom of the bag) or other salty GF snack
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup or so of M&M's
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
salt, pepper, and favorite seasoning blend, to taste (original recipe calls for chex mix, so this makes up for the seasoning in that)

Heat oven to 300°F.  Line to 15x10x1 inch pans with foil; spray with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix together snack mix, pecans, bacon, and M&M's.  

In a saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bubbly.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat.  Cool 2 minutes.  Carefully stir in bourbon, chipotle chili powder, salt, pepper, and seasoning blend.  Pour over snack mix and toss until evenly coated.
Spread snack mixture on pans and bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to caramelize.  Cool completely and break into pieces. 

Mother Trucker

"Frequent Stops" - except at stop signs, I guess
A City of Columbus utility pulled out in front of me this morning and pissed me off.  He was turning left out of the CVS parking lot and didn’t even slow down for the stop sign.  I saw him look left at me and then gun it to get out of the parking lot so he didn’t have to wait for me to pass.  I had to hit my brakes hard or would have hit him on the passenger side.  I took a picture of his license plate when we were at the stop sign at Neil and emailed it with a complaint to two address at the city (one was for the utilities dept. and the other was a general email at the Mayor’s Office).  I know nothing will happen to him, but hopefully someone will at least tell him he was reported for unsafe driving.  This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve been cut off by city trucks in the morning (not to mention buses!) – and it makes me so mad that they drive like they are above the law (which they probably are in the city). 

Another issue I have with him blowing through that stop sign is that directly across the street is a retirement community/nursing home and there are often elderly people crossing the street to get to CVS or Giant Eagle.  It’s not like he saved himself any time by pulling out in front of me.  By the time we got to the Goodale light, I was in front of him because he had to wait for other cars in his lane anyway.  

Update: I did hear back from one utility department and that person said that the complaint was forwarded to the Utilities Service Coordinator, so at least the right person will see it (whether or not they ignore it).

In other news, Lo is sick (cough/congestion junk).  He's taking a class online this week for work (from home), so it sucks that he can't call off and just lay around, but I guess it's better than sitting at work or in an actual class.  I'm fairly convinced that I'll get sick too.  I haven't actually been sick since I've known Lo (that either of us can remember), so I'm definitely due.  He seems to get sick once or twice a year and I never caught it from him yet, but I assume this year the jig will be up.  I hope I don't, because that will probably run into the weekend if so, but whatever.  

Some Favorite Books

Apparently I have really good taste in books.  No one actually told me that, but so many of the books I love have been turned into movies.  I guess I can’t always claim that I read the book before I knew there would be a movie, so maybe my theory is a bit off.

 I’ve always loved reading, but sometimes if just falls out of my list of “important” things to do.  When I worked night shift off and on at the psych hospital, I would read A TON – probably close to 600 pages a night, depending on who I was working with.  I loved some of my co-workers and we’d spend more time talking and/or watching movies together (patients were all sleeping and had motion alarms on their doors, so we just had to do walk-throughs a couple of times an hour and deal with them if they woke up).  If I was working with someone whom I disliked, I would read the entire time to discourage them from talking to me (they probably disliked me just as much).  There were some really shitty people who worked there…like my coworker who was sleeping while a patient tried to get a belt over my head to strangle me.  (I was able to push her off and restrain her– luckily it was a girl and not a guy twice my size). 

I stopped reading after I stopped working at the hospital (and when I worked days there, which was most of the time, I didn’t read much).  Once I moved in with Lo, I never read because I preferred to read when we went to bed but couldn’t leave the light on or else he couldn’t sleep.  I’m not sure what got me reading again last year, but I started reading under the covers with a flashlight.  In November, he bought a Nook, so now I read with that – still under the covers because he says it’s still too bright.  It works out okay though, so I don’t really mind.  

Anyway….I have a lot of favorite books, but know I’m forgetting some.  I marked whether I read the book or movie first (or if there isn’t a movie).  I pretty much always like the book best, but it’s nice to be able to picture the characters after seeing the movie and then reading the book.  In no particular order, here are some books I think you should read.  Especially Hunger Games. 

Favorite Books:
·         Hunger Games Series (3) – books only; 1st movie comes out in spring - can't wait!
·         Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series (3) – books first; saw 1st movie
·         Red Dragon – no movie (Silence of the Lambs prequel)
·         Silence of the Lambs – movie first
·         Black Hawk Down – not sure; probably movie first
·         In the Company of Heroes – no movie; it’s the captured soldier’s story from Black Hawk Down
·         The Time Travelers Wife – book first
·         The Devil Wears Prada – not sure which first - it was within a week or so of each other
·         American Psycho – I think movie first…because I was afraid to turn the pages sometimes. 
·         Room – book; don’t think there’s a movie in the making
·         Shutter Island – book only; haven’t seen the movie
·         A Time To Kill – book first, I think, but the movie made me obsessed with Matthew McConaughey until he got all weird and hippy-like
·         The Horse Whisperer – book first
·         Bridges of Madison County – book first
·         Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – book only; I think there’s a movie though
·         Into the Wild – book first
·         The Beach – not sure which first
·         Eat, Pray, Love – book first, I think
·         Memoirs of a Geisha – book first
·         The Great Gatsby – not sure; the only movie I’ve seen is the one with Robert Redford
·         We Were Soldiers Once…and Young  - book first

What are some of your favorites – I need some suggestions to load onto our Nook!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Portobellos

Mexican Stuffed Portobellos
Since we've started eating mushrooms, I usually order portobello mushrooms when I get a Green Bean Produce Delivery.  I made these last year - it was just a throw together meal of whatever ingredients we had - and we really liked it so I wanted to try it again.  As usual, I don't really measure things, but there is little room to mess anything up.  The filled made more than we needed for these, so I froze the rest for us to use for tacos or whatever some other night.  I highly recommend that everyone get a cast-iron pan (10-12 inches).  Amazon has pre-seasoned Lodge Cast Iron (made in USA) for really good prices ($18 and $21), and locally World Market usually has them as well.  These pans will literally last forever if you take care of them - it's easier than you think (see below for our care instructions).

Mexican Stuffed Portobellos

4 portobello mushrooms, wipe any dirt off the outside and scrape out gills with a spoon
1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey)
1/2 bunch of kale
1/3 bag of frozen corn
1/2 jar of salsa
handful of fresh spinach
2 green onions, chopped
onion flakes or chopped onion
taco seasoning or fajita seasoning
splash of Braggs Liquid Amino Acid (can use soy sauce or leave out completely)
red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
shredded cheese of your choice, for topping
avocado for topping, cubed
Half of a lime

Clean/prepare your mushrooms.  Add beef (and onion if using a real one) to a large skillet (preferably ovenproof) and cook until beef is just done, stirring every minute or so.  While meat is cooking, chop all veggies.  Drain beef in a metal colander if there's a lot of grease.  Return beef to skillet and add taco/fajita seasoning mix, dried onion, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of water. Stir well.  Add corn, kale, spinach, green onions, and any other veggies you want.  Add salsa and a splash of Braggs or soy sauce if using.  Put lid on skillet and cook until kale is wilted (stirring occasionally), 5-7 minutes.  If the mixture looks dry at any point, add a few tablespoons of water. 

If you have a second oven-proof skillet, arrange portobellos in the second skillet.  If you don't have a second skillet, transfer filling to a bowl and scrape out skillet (no need to wash) and arrange mushrooms in the pan.  Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the pan around the mushrooms.  Mound filling into each mushroom and sprinkle with cheese.  Cover skillet and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until mushrooms look tender.  If you have an oven-proof skillet, turn on broiler and place skillet under the broiler for a few minutes (watching carefully) until cheese is browned. Squeeze a half of a lime over the mushrooms and carefully transfer to plates.  Top with avocado. 

Mexican Stuffed Portobellos

 I have a 10.25 inch cast iron pan that my mom gave me - I think she said it belonged to one of my grandmas and I remember cooking with it all of my life at home - so it's pretty old, but it is smooth as a baby's bottom on the inside.  We also have a 12 inch one that I got from Amazon.  We recently bought lids for them (also at Amazon, $20 and $25), which I highly recommend.  If you want to be really careful about seasoning and caring for your cast iron, read these "real" instructions of proper care.  We basically wash with hot water, no soap, oil it on the inside, and put it on the stovetop and turn on the burner for a few minutes to help it dry.  You could also wipe off any water before oiling lightly.  My oiling/drying, you'll help prevent rusting and help keep it "seasoned".  You should also re-season it every now and then, which entails oiling it really well and baking it in the oven for an hour.  We also have this Lodge handle mitt, that makes it easy to pick up and transfer to and from the oven, as the handle gets really hot even when cooking on the stovetop.  And don't worry - if you accidentally use soap every now and then, it should be fine.  When I lived at home, I didn't know you couldn't use soap on them, so I'm sure that the older one that we have was soaped plenty of times and rarely re-seasoned.  It's fine, but I would recommend caring for them properly so they will last forever. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Workouts of the Week: Jan. 22-27

Now that the tendon in my elbow is healed (13 months later), I can start to vary my workouts to where I can actually use my arms.  I'd like to do yoga at least once a week after work (either at PAI, Capital Club, or Arena District Athletic Club), as well as spinning twice a week (at lunch at Capital Club).  My other lunch workouts will either probably be legs, or 20 min. cardio with a WOD (cross-fit workout of the day) for the second half. 

Monday:  20 min strider elliptical, 5 min. jog. 
WOD: 10 rounds (10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 reps) Squats, Spread Eagle Crunch Ups, Burpees
Volleyball – Women’s Power League

Tuesday: No lunch workout (lunch with old co-worker), Hot Yoga at PAI (1 hr. 15 min)

Wednesday: 25 minute run (don't know the distance, but I run sloooww)
WOD:  7 rounds (7,7,7 reps) Burpees, Situps, Jumping Jacks

Thursday: Noon Spinning at Capital Club, 5:30 Yoga at Capital Club

Friday:  15 minutes on a stupid bike (all the other cardio machines were taken), some jump roping (trying to do more than 2 double unders in a row)
WOD: 7 rounds (21,18,15,12,9,6,3 reps) Squats, Mountain Climbers, Pushups
1000 meter rowing

Weekend:  yeah, I don't really work out on the weekends...

I'm sufficiently sore all over today - mostly from the yoga on Thursday (it was intense!), and the WOD from yesterday.  Even my triceps are sore - which is awesome because that means I'm starting to have better form with my pushups!  I'm still on my knees because I'm still being careful with my elbow, but I'm bringing my elbows closer to my body and it isn't bothering it, which is a good sign. I did 84 pushups with the WOD yesterday, so I think I'm on my way to "real" pushups. 
My arches have been bothering me a little bit - I suspect it's from the vinyasas in Yoga and the Crescent Pose - I'll have to be careful with it next week.  I used to have arch pain all of the time until I start wearing Vibrams for all of my workouts, so hopefully it's just temporary until I get used to the yoga poses again.  My hip flexibility is terrible right now - especially with my left hip, so yoga should help that as well.  I suspect that since my left foot still turns in a little bit, my left hip will always be a little less flexible because it's probably slightly rotated (that may not be true, but it seems like a good explanation of my foot turning in).  It's also the side that I get IT band pain, so it's probably all connected in some way.  Luckily the instructor at CC on Thursdays is really good about walking around and adjusting poses, since it's a small class, so she was able to realign my left hip several times to the appropriate position.  I told her that it doesn't really cooperate, so she watched that side more carefully.  The class only had 4 people, compared to 35 or so at PAI, so I should be able to learn a lot with her.  

Lo did his normal workouts - 3 Cross Fit classes at Ohio Krav Maga, lifting with his friend one night, and 3 lunchtime workouts (which are also usually Cross Fit based)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chard with Bacon and Apple

Chard with Bacon and Apple -  before cooking

I had lots of apples left from our trip to Lynd's Fruit Farm in the late fall and they were starting to get a little soft, so I wanted to use them up by cooking with some of them.  I had pinned this recipe from Whole Foods for Chard with Bacon and Apple, and I had chard and bacon, so I thought it would be perfect.  I added a few things to the original recipe to give it some more flavor, and we both really liked it.  I have to admit that I totally expected to be eating this by myself - I didn't think Lo would be into it because of the apples (he liked apples, but he's weird about fruit in things - turns out bacon has more influence than apples.

Chard with Bacon and Apple - cooked

Chard with Apple and Bacon

3 slices bacon, diced
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 apples, cored and diced (I used Goldrush)
1 bunch organic chard, well rinsed (I used rainbow chard)
Glug of balsamic vinegar
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Place a large skillet over medium heat. I find the easiest way to dice bacon is using a pair of kitchen shears.  Stack the bacon, cut lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into little pieces.  Add bacon to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel. If there is a bunch of oil in pan, pour a little bit out or blot some carefully with a crumpled paper towel.  Add onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in apples.

Meanwhile, cut off the stems of the chard and slice them thinly.  Add the stems to the skillet and stir.  Chop the leaves. Stir leaves into the skillet along with the bacon, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Pour in 2 tablespoons water; cover the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until chard is tender, about 6 more minutes. Add glug of balsamic vinegar and stir, uncovered for 1-2 minutes.  Serve! 

To be honest, I have no idea what we ate this with.  Not a clue and it was only a week or two ago. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Where Do We Shop?

I do most of the grocery shopping for our house, but will often have Lo pick up something when he's going to the store for beer or if I just need one or two things (he's better about only buying what he needs).  I shop at a variety of stores for groceries, but I only go to each store once or twice a month (sometimes less).  My decisions are based on where I can save the most money, get the best food, and/or convenience.  

I prefer to shop at Trader Joes, get my meat at The House of Meats in Anderson’s (love that name!), and buy other things in bulk at Costco (produce, canned goods, frozen stuff, cheese) and whatever has a coupon making it a good deal.  We do get things at Giant Eagle a lot – mostly because it is SO close to our place and we like fuel perks, or Kroger when they have great deals (their fuel program sucks).  I also occasionally go to Whole Foods and Aldis (extreme polar opposites).  Oh- and I get produce at farmer's markets and through Green B.E.A.N. Delivery throughout the year too. If I had to guess, we probably spend about $250 on food at the grocery per month.  That doesn’t include beer (he buys that on his own) or dining out (I don’t want to know exactly how much that costs each month, though I probably should try to pay attention).  

My staples at each store:

Trader Joes: Bananas, Shredded Carrots, Garlic, Shredded Broccoli Mix, Organic Apples, Onions, Hummus, Shaved Parmesan, Romano & Asiago Blend, Smoked Gouda, Bleu Cheese Crumbles, Chicken Sausages, Peanut Butter, Organic Applesauce Cups (for baking), Refried Black Beans, Carribean-Style Black Beans, Rice Pasta, Pizza Sauce, Goddess Dressing, Frozen Shrimp, Frozen Salmon, Frozen Mahi-Mahi, Frozen Mahi-Mahi Burgers (but they've been out of them for MONTHS and it breaks my heart each time!), Frozen Garlic, Basil, and Cilantro Cubes, Frozen Melange-a-Trois Pepper Blend, Frozen Edamame, Frozen Spinach, Greek Yogurt, Ricotta Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Tortilla Chips, Plantain Chips, and Salsa.  

House of Meats: When on sale - Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Filet Mignon, Beef Roasts, Pork Chops, Beef Stew Meat.  The chicken breasts go on sale about once a month for either $1.79 or $1.99 – you can either get plain or pick ones that are already marinated in one of 9 or so different marinades.  Plus they wrap them in a plastic bag and then freezer paper, so they can go straight in the freezer.  If I’m really stocking up, I’ll call ahead and tell them how many pounds of what flavors I want and they’ll have them ready when I get there (plus you get to bypass the line that way – it can be busy there). I usually walk through the produce section at Anderson's while I'm there and pick up whatever is on sale/looks good.

Costco (food only): Fresh Spinach, Peppers, Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts, Berries, Smoked Gouda and Apple Chicken Sausages, Sliced Cheese, Laughing Cow Cheese, Shredded Mozzarella, Rotisserie Chicken, Take and Bake Pizza (for Lo), Frozen DiGiorno (for Lo), Cottage Cheese, Real Bacon Bits, Almond Butter, Onion Flakes, Red Pepper Flakes, Canned Diced Tomatoes, Canned Chicken Breast, Canned Soups, Black Beans, Starbucks or Kirkland Coffee, Butternut Squash Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Almonds, Nutella, Maple Syrup, and Chocolate Chips.  A lot of these items I only buy when there are coupons for them in the monthly booklet, but the coupons make them fantastic deals.  

Giant Eagle and Kroger: I mostly buy what coupons match up to (I don't do a lot of couponing, but I do look through the inserts that come and will pull out coupons for the things that I would buy anyway.  Others things include various produce, canned goods, baking goods, cheese, and other random things that we need.  There really isn't anything that we always buy at these stores.  

Aldis: I pretty much only buy canned goods or baking items at Aldis when I really need to stock up.  Sometimes frozen items too.  I probably only go 2-3 times a year. 

Whole Foods: I don't go regularly, but will go in when they have a great sale (some of their Friday One Day Sales are incredible).  When I'm there, I usually get produce, cheese, tofu, snacks, gluten-free items, bulk spices, and bulk grains.

I also get a lot of gluten free food (flour blends, pizza dough mix, bread mix, etc.) on Amazon.com - they have a great Gluten-Free Store and often have really good deals, especially when purchased with the Subscribe and Save Option (which can be cancelled at any time).

That just about covers all of our shopping needs.  You'll notice I didn't mention a lot of processed foods because I really don't buy a lot of that.  It's just a choice that I've made, partly because I enjoy cooking and partly because I gain weight really easily. I try to keep macaroni and cheese around, but even when I make that, I doctor it up enough that it passes as healthy.  I also usually have gluten-free bisquick, pizza dough mix, some cake or cookies mixes, and canned soup.  I don't think there is anything wrong with people using processed food when time is tight, but most people can find time to throw some food in a crockpot to make a meal, make soup, or cook chicken for salads once or twice a week.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Old Navy is Crap

I don't always feel like Old Navy sucks, but the last few times, I have.  It's never been my preferred brand (I much prefer GAP), but I usually shop there a few times a year and sometimes find things that I really love.  It seems like every winter, I'm able to find some sweaters and long sleeve shirts that I like, so I was hoping to find something like that pretty easily.   

I bought a Groupon in December that was going to expire this weekend, so I went tonight after work.  Coffee was on sale at World Market today only, so I while I was in that plaza, it made sense.  I figured worst case scenario, I'd buy some workout clothes.  I grabbed a pair of skinny jeans to try (though I really can't pull them off with my thighs), a bunch of workout clothes, a few sweaters, and some other shirts from the clearance racks.  The jeans actually looked okay once I sized down, but I couldn't see myself wearing them much.  The workout clothes were terrible.  The pants came up to my ribcage and were weirdly big in the waist (who is built like that!).  The shirts were wildly sized - I picked up all L or XL and none of them fit right.  The armholes on the tanks were huge, the bustline was at a weird spot, thumbholes on a long-sleeved shirt weren't in the right spot, and there was one yoga tank that I actually almost got panicky because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get it off - the inner bra was THAT small, though it was a large.  Normally I wear underwire sports bras - but I went ahead and tried on two of their uni-boob bras because I thought they would be sufficient support for yoga...um no...I would have fallen right out the top in downward dog.  There was one racerback ribbed tank for $2 that I wanted, one black cami for about $3.50, a yoga tank for $10 that actually seemed to work out okay, though I need to try it on with my pants because I still may hate it, 2 OSU thermals that I picked up for my nephews for $2.08/each (I'll save them for next christmas), and an OSU tshirt for me for $2.08.  So that was my $20 groupon spent - but it took forever to even find that stuff.  It's not even that I was trying to get things that were on sale or clearance - I couldn't even find things that were full price that I liked!  The OSU shirt that I got for myself was supposed to be $5 something, but it turned out to be $2.08, so after I checked out I grabbed a couple for Loren and a couple for gifts for less than $10.  I wish I would have seen them in the beginning and known the price - I would have saved myself an hour or so!

I probably won't be going back there for awhile. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Pantry Challenge

I said at the beginning of the month that I was going to attempt to use food from my pantry and freezer with very little grocery shopping.  I did okay, but kind of failed.  I've had 2 produce deliveries this month, which are $35 each, and we've bought groceries a few times - but it was mostly all produce/stock up stuff that I actually needed or wouldn't find a better deal later on.

Our first shopping trip was to Whole Foods because Lo wanted Hopslam and they usually have it.  I wanted to pick up some extra produce because I was going to do some juicing.  Plus I had some coupons for things that we would normally buy, so it only made sense to get them now. The total was $82.98, but $23 of that was beer that he picked out.  I also bought 3 loaves of Rudi's Gluten-Free Bread that were on sale for $4.39 to keep in the freezer for when I really need/want bread.  Other than a bunch of produce, I got tea, bulk brown rice, bulk cumin and thyme, lentils, larabars, and San J Thai Peanut Sauce.  Everything other than the produce, beer, and bulk items had coupons.

Over the weekend I sent Lo to Giant Eagle because we were out of eggs.  I checked the weekly ads and also had him buy clementines that were on sale for $3.99 for 5 lbs (he actually bought the 3 lb. bag for $3.99, but oh well), shredded cheese 4/$10, Giant Eagle freezer bags 2/$5, and boneless skinless chicken breast $1.99/lb (about 3 lbs) - it was probably about $26. 

On Monday before volleyball, I stopped at Kroger to get some sale items.  I bought secret turkey pepperoni (I have to hide it from him) ($2.99), shredded cheese ($2), cottage cheese x3 ($1.25 ea.),12 oz. organic salad mix (reduced to $1.79), pineapple x2 ($1 each), grapes ($1.66), orange pepper ($1.67), and red pepper ($1.61), for a total of $17.47

On Tuesday after hot yoga, I went to Trader Joes because we needed more eggs/egg whites.  I bought 1/2 gal of milk ($1.99), smoky peach salsa ($2.29), marinara ($1.79), pizza sauce ($1.99), tomato paste (.89), egg whites liquid x2 ($1.99), eggs ($1.69), shaved parmesan romano blend ($2.49), crumbled gorgonzola ($3.29), greek yogurt ($2.99), and bananas ($1.52), for a total of $24.91.

So in the end, I still spent about $130 at the grocery store, plus $70 in produce delivery, but we replenished our veggie/fruit/dairy/gf bread stock, so I really should need to do very little shopping in February other than some produce.  The only problem is that I looked ahead at the Giant Eagle ad for next week and they have lots of stuff on sale at lower prices than I can usually get them, so I will probably plan to go next week.  I added up the list that I made for that ad, and it's about $130 on it's own!  I need to go back through and cut down what I plan to get.  I also plan to put my produce deliveries on hold and instead buy the items that I would have ordered at the grocery store and see how the costs compare.   

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Studio 35 is AWESOME! So is Mazah.

Over the weekend, we had plans with friends to go to dinner and the movies.  We'd never been to Studio 35, but knew they had a great beer selection (not that I could have it) and in general, we much prefer theaters with bars to those without.  First we went to dinner at Mazah in Grandview, which is a Mediterranean restaurant with a ton of gluten-free options clearly marked on the menu.  I started with the Mujadara, which is lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and spices over fresh greens.  It was super tasty.  Lo had a cup of lentil soup, which was hot as molten lava and more of a bowl than a cup (he liked it).  We split the Large Sampler, which came with hummus, fava bean dip, baba ghanoush, 3 Bean Salad, cabbage salad, Med. Potato Salad, 2 pieces of falafel, rice, and one entrĂ©e (meat/veggie) and pita bread.  We got Beef Shawarma for our entree part of the sampler and a side of veggies as dippers for me.  Everything was REALLY good and really reasonably priced.  I would absolutely go back.  I'd recommend making reservations, especially on the weekend, because we had to wait for awhile.

After dinner we headed to Studio 35 to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".  I'd read the books, so I was really excited to see the movie.  You can't order tickets in advance through Studio 35, but you can order them through MovieTickets.com, in case you think it's going to be a popular movie.  We did, but it wasn't necessary, because it wasn't nearly as busy as we expected - plus the place is pretty big.  We stopped at the bar on the way in and everyone got delicious beers (they have HOPSLAM) except me (vodka+soda).  When Lo went for the second round during the movie, he also got me a small popcorn with a scoop of M&M's.  Seriously.  I never really get movie popcorn, but I was super excited to get some after I read that you can get a scoop of M&M's added to your popcorn for 50 cents (the popcorn was only $3 itself).  It is really an amazing combination.  They put the scoop of candy on top, but as you're eating it, some of them work their way towards the bottom, so you have candy the whole way through.  So good.

The movie was incredibly good, as expected.  The sound wasn't so great in the theater, and the characters had Swedish accents, so it was a little hard to understand at times. Apparently they sometimes show double features, so for $7.50 you get to see 2 movies.  They also serve pizzas, salads, and subs.  The theater itself is basically the theater version of a dive bar - it's absolutely not fancy in anyway, has a weird old building smell (you get used to it), and like I said, the sound wasn't perfect, but it was a really cool place.  We will absolutely go back, especially after we move further away from Arena Grand, which is usually our go-to theater.    

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fast Dinner!

I went to yoga at Arena District Athletic Club on Thursday after work (I have a pass with free classes), so I wanted to make a simple dinner.  We had some Apple and Gouda Chicken Sausages in the fridge from Costco and I had a sweet potato that I want to use up.  Lo doesn't love sweet potatoes, but if I make them spicy, he likes them well enough.  So when I found the Crash Hot Sweet Potato recipe on Pinterest, I thought it would be a winner.  We also had baked beans with Apple Cinnamon BBQ Sauce because I love them with that sauce (we get it at North Market). Basically you just drain a can of vegetarian baked beans (don't rinse- just drain most of the sauce off from the can) and then add your preferred amount of apple cinnamon BBQ sauce.  I'm going to try to make some of the sauce - it's worth $5 a bottle because it's so good, but I'd prefer to be able to make it.  What I do love about it, is that all of the ingredients are very natural (which will also make it easier to copy).

My sweet potatoes didn't turn out nearly as pretty, but I think I should have sliced them a little thinner, or boiled them a little longer before smashing because a couple broke apart.  Either way, they tasted so good, so I don't really care what they looked like.  Lo used the extras in breakfast on Sunday underneath some eggs topped with sausage gravy.  It was awesome.
Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes

I really should start to take pictures with a real camera instead of my iphone.  I don't have a fancy camera, but they would be a little clearer.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No Juice for Me!

Last week I borrowed a juicer from a friend to see how I liked juicing for breakfast.  I work out at 11:45 and have to be careful about what I eat in the morning, so I thought this could be a good option.  I was making mostly veggie juice with an apple and lemon for flavor/sweetness.  It tasted ok and was fine for most workouts, but it wasn't ok/enough for a largely lifting-based workout on Friday.  I couldn't get through the WOD (cross-fit workout of the day) that Lo was having us do.  Well, I got through it, but barely, and it took me forever.  I was beat.  So juicing definitely isn't enough of a breakfast for me, but the main reason I'm going to end the experiment is that I can't justify the waste.  One batch of juice would create 3-4 cups of pulp.  While I was able to make egg bake with the pulp and have plans to add it to soup in the future (I froze it), I won't be able to use that much pulp if I'm juicing everyday.  Maybe I'd be able to justify it if we had a composter, but we don't, so I can't.
That's a lot of pulp

I think someone should totally open a Juice Bar/Pulp Bakery though.  They could sell fresh juice, but then use the pulp to make bread, baked goods, soups, and egg bakes.  It's brilliant - and there would barely be any waste! 

Appetizer Night Part 2!

After work on Friday night, I had a bad headache for a couple of hours, so we didn't make any plans.  I also didn't have any thoughts for dinner (we usually don't eat leftovers on Friday nights).  The weather was supposed to get bad, and by the time my headache was fading, we were starting to get some freezing rain.  We talked about going to Jury Room, since it's only about 3 miles away and wouldn't be very crowded; we talked about ordering in, but nothing sounded great and most places would probably take forever because of the weather and because everyone was probably ordering in.  We didn't have any secret pepperoni or other great toppings, and we had plenty of pizza last week, so grilled pizza didn't sound great.  So we did what we did on another similar night a year ago...Appetizer Night!

Appetizer Night #2
Appetizer Night consists of whatever you want it to and whatever is easy enough.  I knew I had a few blocks of cream cheese in the fridge and wanted to use one of them, so I looked online for a baked dip recipe to use as a guide, and found this Hot and Spicy Corn Dip to use as a guide.  The only changes I made were to use salsa instead of tomatoes, chipotle peppers instead of jalapenos, and added sliced green onions and sundried tomatoes.  In the end, I wish i would have added more spices because it could have been spicier.  We also had some frozen Southwestern Style Chicken Trumpets that I got free with a coupon.  They weren't GF, so only Lo was going to eat those.  We also had waffle fries and Blue Jacket Gretna Grilling Cheese (it didn't "grill up" quite right in the cast iron pan, but whatever.  So this was not a well balanced or healthy meal, but we didn't feel like trying harder.

Our first Appetizer Night consisted of mini pizzas on Sandwich Thins (when I could eat gluten).  His looks to be of a standard pizza type and mine appears to be red cabbage and goat cheese with balsamic vinegar.  We also had kale chips, homemade fries, cheese and crackers, and something that we can't identify in the picture (top right), but it appears we would have been dipping it in BBQ sauce (top left). 
Appetizer Night #1
Actually - I just looked on Facebook where I posted the original Appetizer Night picture to see if I said what that other item was (I didn't), but I realized that our first Appetizer Night was January 22, 2011 - so it was the same weekend a year ago that we did it last time.