Monthly Archives: January 2011

Recipe #4: Going Vegan

I decided to do something a little different this week. Every recipe I had tried so far was a bulk recipe, something I could pack up and take with me for lunches during the week or reheat for dinner. I had plans for dinner most nights this week so I thought maybe I would try baking something instead. Since I was sick for the past two weeks, I feel like I haven’t eaten very well. Soup, soup, and more soup, and while delicious, I just wasn’t getting everything I needed. There were several occasions where I had little more than a cup of hot tea. That counts as a meal right?

So anyway, one of my favorite blogs is a vegan blog, Oh She Glows. While I’m by no means a vegan, I think if anyone could convince me that I would want to be one, it would be Angela. I also knew I could find a fun treat that would be healthy at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything vegan before, so I thought that might be fun too. I decided on her apple pie muffin tops (giggle giggle). I love anything that has apple in it and when I looked at the ingredient list, I only needed to buy one ingredient. Sold!

I also used Evan’s dSLR camera. He just got a new fancy-shmancy one and was nice enough to let me play around with his old one. I’m hoping to get one pretty soon, I’ve only been drooling over them for the last two years or so (oh the woes of a grad student). So the pictures (hopefully) look better than usual. I definitely spent a lot more time than I expected on this recipe because I was playing around with the camera so much.

I have to say this recipe turned out a lot better than my last experience with spelt flour. I made bread a few months ago that no matter how long I cooked it, it was still mushy, doughy, and not done. I also got my first experience with a flax “egg.” I could’ve cheated and used a regular egg, but I wanted to see if the flax egg really was what I had heard. Basically, if you mix water with ground flax, mix it, and let it sit, it’ll turn to the same consistency as an egg!  I’m not going to go through step-by-step because  it wouldn’t be fair (or as good) as Angela’s post, so check out hers. And then check out a few pictures I took:

Nom nom! They turned out to be absolutely delicious. They were just the right amount of sweet and proved to be the perfect afternoon snack. This was a really fun recipe to cook. I like trying healthier substitutes for ingredients. I’ve used applesauce in place of oil before, but this time, the mashed banana was the ingredient replacing the oil. This certainly won’t be the last vegan or vegetarian recipe I’ll cook this year. Part of the reason I made my resolution was to push myself to cook things I wouldn’t have before and to experiment with new ingredients. I’ve given some thought lately to cutting meat out of my diet, but I haven’t made a true decision. Gosh, my Dad would’ve been horrified just to hear me say I was thinking that! If anyone has anything they’d like me to try to cook, let me know! I’m always open to ideas.

At least this resolution is going well, some of my others need some work! More on that later…

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Chicken Noodletastic “Soup”

Well I finally went to the doctor last week (that sentence originally said yesterday, but when do I ever post a timely entry?). Guess what? I have a sinus infection, duh. I got some meds and here we are on Monday and I feel like a million bucks compared to last week. I came home from the doctor and decided to tackle my soup recipe that I had decided on earlier in the week. I learned one major thing this week: follow. the. directions. While the dish tasted really good still, I wouldn’t exactly call it soup. I based my soup off of this recipe from Food Network, with some slight changes. I didn’t use any celery in my soup. Celery is just ok to me. It doesn’t have much flavor and I really don’t like cooked celery. It’s just mushy nothingness. I didn’t think I’d miss it and I was right. I also didn’t have any fresh thyme, just used some dried and it still tasted delicious!

I also learned the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth. Since I’ve been feeling crummy for the better part of two weeks now, I decided to take the easy route and buy chicken stock from the store instead of making my own. Chicken stock is made from the bones of a chicken and chicken broth comes from the meat. Chicken stock also has a fuller, richer flavor (you’re welcome!). I used 2 quarts of chicken stock in the soup. What I didn’t do was use 8 oz. of noodles. Here’s where I need to learn to follow directions. My bag of noodles was 16 oz. instead of 8 oz. I didn’t really pay attention to what I bought (I blame the plague). I dumped the whole bag into the pot and immediately panicked as they took over my soup. I tried to fish as many noodles out as I could, but it was still very noodle heavy. After Evan and I both had a bowl, there was essentially no liquid left to the soup…it kind of looks like stroganoff, oops. I think if I add another box of stock, it’ll be okay though.

 

Chicken Noodletastic Soup

2 tbsp EVOO

½ large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, chopped

4 fresh thyme sprigs (if you can find them)

1 bay leaf

2 qts. Chicken stock

8 oz. wide egg noodles

3 cooked boneless/skinless chicken breasts, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Coating a large soup pot with the EVOO, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, bay leaf, and thyme. When they’re starting to soften up, add your chicken stock and let it cook for about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add your noodles (remember, 8 ounces!). Cook for a few minutes, and then finally add your chicken and let it warm. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty simple recipe, really. I’m really picky about meat in soups (why I don’t like most canned soups), so I used the boneless/skinless breasts. Makes a huge difference.

 

Pandas love chicken noodle soup.

I’m brainstorming ideas for a recipe this week, I’m thinking of baking something, maybe a dessert. I’m not sure what I want to tackle yet. Anyone have any suggestions? It’ll likely happen tomorrow since it’s my day off and I can actually get some daylight cooking photos, hooray!!

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So this is what the plague feels like…

So, last week I wrote about how I was feeling sick and was spending my day laying in bed all day. Not much has changed in the past week, in fact, it’s only gotten worse since then. I have been crazy sick all week and it hasn’t improved too much, although I begrudgingly went back to work today (only because of my lack of sick days). Good news: I  did get approved for insurance. Bad news: my coverage won’t start until February. I just googled “plague” to find a picture for this post, and oh. my. gross. I’ll spare you the images. You’re welcome.

Source

I don’t have much to report from the past week, except that I’ve almost finished rewatching Veronica Mars and it’s every bit as amazing as the first time I watched it. I did finish Lucky too. I really liked it, as much as you can like a book about a true-life account of a rape. I’ve been going back and forth between two books now. One is a biography on Thomas Jefferson and the other is about how objects are made to break down after a certain amount of time so we have to buy more. I can’t decide which I want to read first.

I never posted my recipe from last week. I made a pot of chili. I wanted a really simple chili to make. I had made my mom’s recipe once before, but it didn’t come out like I wanted it to. It tasted okay, but not like what I remembered. I found what looked like a pretty similar recipe. You can find it here. The consistency turned out much better than the last chili I made, although it probably could have been a little spicier, and I’m a spice wimp! I can’t wait until it starts to stay light outside later, so I can try to get some food photographs in the daylight. I did get to try out my new bamboo cutting board that my brother gave me for Christmas, I’m definitely a fan!

I need some pretty dishes to make. This week won’t be much better though. I bought the ingredients to make chicken noodle soup and if I can ever get the energy, I’ll actually cook it.

Do any of you have any book recommendations? Recipe suggestions? I’ve been battling with looking through my dad’s cookbooks (mostly of the southern cuisine variety) and trying to cook healthy meals. Those two often don’t go hand in hand. 🙂

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Sick Day

Well, it’s my day off and instead of getting to enjoy it, I’m home with a super-sore throat. I’ve been laying in bed all morning watching episodes of Lie to Me. I suppose it’s not a terrible way to spend a day off. I just hope it doesn’t get any worse. No insurance + no sick days = bad news bears. I know I should go out and get some medicine, but there’s snow outside and I’d have to clear off my car and well, my bed is just so warm and comfy.

I started my first book of 2011 this week. My friend, Erin, let me borrow her copy of Lucky. It’s by Alice Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones, one of my favorite books. I haven’t seen the movie yet; I heard it wasn’t very good. The book was incredible though. Lucky is Sebold’s true account of when she was raped in college. While it starts off rather gruesome and intense, it was difficult to put the book down. I read at least 100 pages within the first day of having it, and with my day off, I might just finish it today. So far, I would highly recommend it and if you haven’t read The Lovely Bones, read it.

I completed recipe 2/52 on Monday and will hopefully post it later today. It was the perfect meal for a cold winter night. For now though, it’s time to lay back down and do nothing (and eventually venture out and get some meds).

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Recipe #1 and Other Updates

Well, well, well…I say I’ll blog “more” and then don’t post anything all week. And I thought the running resolution was going to be the tough one (Touché Ben)… I’ve been pretty busy all week though and have done pretty well with all of my resolutions. I’m almost done with Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I need to decide what to read next. Fiction? Presidential biography? Any suggestions?

I also cooked my first recipe on Monday night. I decided to start with an easy one, mainly because my stepmom told me about something I was excited to make and because I still had half a lasagna or more to get through. I made a really simple chicken salad and it is the best chicken salad I’ve ever made. It has 5 simple ingredients.

  • Cooked chicken
  • Mayo (If you use Hellman’s it will be wayyy better, I promise!)
  • Celery
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I honestly didn’t measure anything. I cooked 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts and shredded them. I used about a stalk and a half of celery, but pretty tiny. Then I added mayo until it was “chicken salad consistency” and salt and pepper to taste. It was just…delicious. I polished it off during lunch today and I was sad to see it go.

I took some pictures as I was cooking (although I didn’t remember until about halfway through). Want to know something? No matter how you photograph chicken and mayonnaise, it just does not look appetizing. I’ll spare you the visuals. Maybe next week I’ll cook something a little more photogenic.

Running

I’ve run two miles this week. It’s been a rough start. The cold weather is crushing my already asthma-y lungs and I think my inhaler might be empty/expired. I’ve just been running around my neighborhood. I miss not having a trail nearby, but it’s pretty fun to run down random streets and check out the different houses in Clarendon. Not to mention the squirrel brains I ran by yesterday. Yum!

Goals

So that’s a few goals that are going pretty well so far. I am adding a new one today, something that I should do anyway, but I don’t. Even though I’m 6 days late starting it, I’m going to start taking vitamins every day. I really wanted to get Flintstone ones, but I decided to be an adult.

I also have  January goal that I didn’t mention before. I’m taking my lunch to work every day. I’m usually really bad about buying lunch at work and usually get up too late to get anything together. As cheap as the cafeteria is at the hospital where I usually get lunch, I know it will be cheaper and more fun if I bring my lunch. I’ve been good this week for the most part. I had lunch at Potbelly with a friend on Tuesday that I hadn’t seen in months and my bosses are taking me out to lunch tomorrow to celebrate completing my Master’s. Most weeks aren’t that eventful though, so next week should be full of brown-bagged lunches!

What a pictureless post! Blame the chicken salad. If you made it through all  of that text, thanks! Here’s a random picture to finish it out from my camera full of pictures from the past few months:

IMG_2487This was at a famous historical house I visited recently. I’ll try to recap that soon, but it might be a long long post.

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Year of the Panda

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you have all had a wonderful first two days of the year. Admittedly 2010 was a pretty rough year for my family and me, so I’m hoping that the new year will change things. I feel like 2011 is a blank slate, I have no idea where I’ll be in a few weeks/months. 2011 might be the year of the Rabbit in China, but I’m declaring it the year of the Panda. Hopefully I’ll have a new job soon, hopefully I’ll still be in DC, but honestly I feel like everything’s up in the air. It’s all been really certain school/career-wise for the past few years, so it feels strange to be job hunting again and really frustrating in this market, but hopefully something will turn up soon.

I’m not usually one to make resolutions. I can’t remember the last time I made one to be honest and I’m pretty sure I’ve never kept one. I vow to be different this year. So I’ve come up with a few that I hope to achieve and hopefully through this blog I can be held accountable:

1. Cook one new recipe a week. During grad school it was really difficult for me to have time to cook like I wanted to or what I wanted to. Now that I have a little more free time, I really hope to expand my cooking knowledge. I have an entire bookcase full of cookbooks, mostly ones that belonged to my dad, and I can’t wait to explore them and find some fun recipes to share with you all.

2. Run 3 races. Gretchen and I ran a 5k this past Thanksgiving and I got bit by the race bug. Since one of her goals is to run an 8k and a 10k, hopefully we can work together on  that goal.

3. Run 400 miles. Just typing that makes me shudder. I don’t think I’ve run 400 miles in my entire life, and I want to run it all in one year?!?! It really doesn’t seem that bad though when I think about it. It’s less than 8 miles a week. Whenever I go out to run, I don’t plan on running less than 2 miles, so I just need to get my ass outside a few days a week.

4. Read 20 books. I thought about this one for awhile. I wasn’t sure what would be a realistic goal for books. I haven’t been able to read for fun in so long. I decided on 20 though. I’m not reading Dr. Seuss after all. I’ll start counting as soon as I finish Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I guess I better hurry up and finish it…

5. I think Gretch made this resolution for me, but I will blog more. Now that I don’t have school to blame anymore, I don’t have any excuse and by blogging I can track my other goals, share recipes, write about my running, and review books that I’ve read. Thanks Gretch! Smile

Hope everyone else is looking forward to 2011 as much as I am!

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