40 Days

Hello world!  I feel like I’ve been light on the blog posting lately.  I’ve been super focused on school for the past few months and it’s consumed most of my time and energy.  But here I am.  How are you?  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I gave up sugar for lent which turned out to be a really awesome experience.  Besides the spiritual aspect of it, I was also looking to kick a mild sugar addiction which in turn would (I assumed) lead me to drop pounds quick.  Wrong.  When it was all said and done, I ended up gaining a pound (seriously?).  I really don’t understand that one.

Like I said, it was a great experience because I learned several things and adopted some new routines:

  • I was indeed addicted to sugar, and I was consuming it at nearly every meal, knowingly or unknowingly.  
  • Sugar is in EVERYTHING.  Let me rephrase, sugar is in nearly everything that is processed.
  • I was eating so much more processed food than I realized.
  • I was eating out a lot more than I realized.
  • Eating out costs a lot of money.
  • Cooking at home, when you are now trying to cook all natural and organic costs a lot of money.
  • Crappy, sugary food was around me constantly, everywhere I went.  Work, school, there was always cookies, cake, etc and before I would always go “yes of course I’ll have some.”  During my 40 days sugar-free, when I couldn’t have any, it made me realize that I really don’t want all that junk.
  • After a few days off of sugar, I was craving REAL food.  Veggies, fruits, grains.

Prepping to cook for the week. Switching to a non-processed real food only diet is EXPENSIVE! #100daysofrealfood

  • I started cooking a lot more at home.  I’ve mentioned before that I have a cookbook problem, so I had a whole arsenal of recipes to start with.  I had recently purchased a new cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, a slow cooker cookbook and I had bought a new, larger 7 quart slow cooker from Williams-Sonoma so I jumped right in to slow cooking

Excited for my new cookbook!

  • Slow cooking makes A LOT of food.  My fridge is jam-packed with corn chowder and broccoli cheese soup.  I am sick of both already and I still have enough of it to eat it for every meal till next Sunday.

Made enough corn chowder to last me till 2018...
Here it is... Doesn't look too appetizing but it's good. I need to get an immersion blender. Great cookbook :)

  • I thought giving up sugar was going to be so difficult.  It ended up not being too bad, there were a few days where my sugar tooth was really nagging at me, but when that happened I would eat a Clif Kids Z Bar, (my savior).  I love them because they don’t sweeten with sugar, and the chocolate chip ones taste just like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.  I actually ended up loving the freedom from sugar.  It was so nice to be able to say “no I don’t want that” and really mean it.
  • It reminded me of Geneen Roth’s food rules, which I try to live by, but every once in a while you need a refresher.
    • “Eat when you are hungry.
    • Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
    • Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
    • Eat what your body wants.
    • Eat until you are satisfied.
    • Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
    • Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.”

-Geneen Roth

  • I have a lot more I could say about how fabulous Geneen Roth is, about food and eating issues, but I’ll save that for another time and another post.  For now, let me just add to the rules (or guidelines as I really should be calling them, because that is what she calls them), is that EVERYTHING IS OK IN MODERATION!  Please don’t ever deprive yourself of any food.  It just leads to over eating, which is no fun.  Enough on that for now.
  • Today, being Easter, I got to break my no sugar regimen, and boy did I break it.  And boy do I feel like junk.  The day started out with a chocolate chip pudding ring (it is a beyond delicious cake they carry at my local grocery store’s bakery) and ended with Girl Scouts Samoas which I am currently snacking on.  I’ve missed by old buddies of chocolate and white refined sugar, but I am sure that we are going to have a less dependent relationship from now on.
  • I really enjoyed having a goal or something that I am working on, so I think I am going to continue on with a 40 day challenge.  Starting tomorrow I am going to (eeks I don’t even want to write this) do a cardio workout of some sort every single day.  Whether it being a 20 minute walk (which is cardio when you are so out of shape like I am), or zumba at the gym, I want to do something.  Over the past 40 days I’ve started working out more than usual (as in I’ve started working out) and I feel so amazing after I do.  It is so true what they say about it being a natural stress reliever.

So that’s all for now.  I hope Easter treated everyone well.  Have a good week and Carpe Diem!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

I whipped these up the other day.  I mean my coworker whipped these up the other day, I helped a teeny but, but mostly watched and ate.  They were delicious.  Recipe here.  By the way, Tasty Kitchen is my go-to resource for recipes.  It rocks.

Speaking of whoopie pies, there is a gourmet whoopie pie bakery in the area, Whoopsies.  I haven’t been there yet but they look delicious.  And I agree with them… why not try something different?  I think they would be such a fun idea for a wedding or event.

(Photo source)

Le Creuset Dutch Oven

I got a red Le Creuset Dutch Oven for Christmas which I was totally not expecting.  When I opened the present I literally shrieked like an 8-year-old who had just gotten a my size Barbie (that is a whole nother story…).

I hadn’t even asked for it.  I’ve been dreaming and salivating over a Le Creuset Dutch oven for years now, but figured I wouldn’t get one until I got married and someone bought me one off my wedding registry because they ain’t cheap.  And it was in red, which I don’t think my step-mom knew that I buy all my kitchen appliances in red because 1) most of my mom’s kitchen appliances were red and 2) I think red is a good color to have in the kitchen, it stimulates the appetite.

So this is pretty much what I look like now in the kitchen:

About the my size Barbie, I asked for one every year for Christmas for about 5 years in a row, but that was during the time when my dad was a recent widower so it probably went in one ear and out the other.  I think if I got one now I would probably shriek like I did when I got the Le Creuset.

Mise en Place

From Wikipedia “Mise en place is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift.”

I’ve started doing Mise en Place pretty much every time I cook and I find it to be very helpful, you find out any hiccups before you start cooking (if you are out of an ingredient, etc).  It also makes you feel like you are on a cooking show… I’m not the only one who pretends like I’m on a cooking show when I’m cooking am I?

Easy Cappuccino Pie

I made this the other day and of course forgot to take a picture.  It is so easy and so delish.

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= Easy, delicious Cappuccino Pie.

My Kitchen Wish List, September 2010

Sometimes I wish I won a $10,000 shopping spree to Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table, but that will never happen, so, if I had an extra $100 bucks laying around, here is what I would buy:

Ramekins… so I can make souffles all day long.

Emile Henry® Baking Ramekins, Sets of 4

Cookie Cutters with square and round edges… to make biscuits and cookies in pretty shapes.

Square Cutter Set, Crinkle Edge

Cake strips… so that my cakes bake evenly.

Regency Evenbake Cake Strips

A knife sharpener… because my knives have not been sharpened in many years, which is very, very bad.

Furi FUR626 Ozitech Diamond Fingers Pro Knife Sharpener

And of course, all 80,000 cookbooks that are in my Amazon wish list.  Sigh.

My Kitchen Wish List

I already have a KitchenAid mixer but it was my mother’s, which means it is over 20 years old.  It is still holding up great though, except that the dough hook is MIA.

KitchenAid 5 Quart Mixer:

Or I could just buy a dough hook and keep on using my current KitchenAid:


Silpat baking mats in various sizes.  I have never baked with them but I have a feeling they will change my life when they do.  Until that life changing day, parchment paper will do.

A Cuisinart 14 cup food processor because I currently have a 5 cup Cuisinart and it is just too darn small to do anything with.

A cake stand.  My life will be complete when I have one.

I nearly screamed when I saw these measuring cups in odd sizes at Williams-Sonoma.  It would make baking so much easier to have a 2/3 cup or 3/4 cup handy.

And finally (for this post at least, there is plenty more I want) I am burning to get a Le Creuset Dutch oven.  No other brand will do, even though I am so tempted to get the Giada brand that Target is now carrying.

Perfect Pancakes

I am currently snowed in due to  Snowmagedden/ Snowapocalypse/ Sn-omg and this morning I got a hankering for pancakes.  I did a quick google search and came across this delicious made from scratch recipe:

Ingredients

Preparation

In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk.

Start with 1 1/4 cups milk, adding up to another 1/4 cup if necessary, as you mix it with the flour.

Add the two eggs, vanilla if using and oil, whisking until mixed but still a bit lumpy.

Heat a frying pan (if it is not non-stick, you will need to melt a bit of butter or oil in it) and when hot, pour in some pancake mix.

How much depends on how experienced you are at flipping pancakes and how big you want them. We do about 1/4 cup a time for small, easy-to-flip pancakes but you could make this as much as 1/2 cup of pancake mix.

If you are adding fruit, I like to sprinkle it on top of the pancake now.

When the pancake starts to bubble on top and is golden brown on the cooked side, turn it and continue cooking until both sides are golden brown.

The first pancake is always a bit of a test so adjust the batter by adding more flour if you need to make it thicker or more milk if you want a thinner pancake. In either case, just add a few spoonfuls at a time until you get it right.

Repeat the cooking process with the remaining batter. You may need to adjust the heat as pan tends to get hotter as you keep making pancakes.

Keep the cooked pancakes covered with a tea towel, to keep them warm while you finish cooking the rest.

Definitely never using Bisquick ever again- this is so quick and delicious!

Site of the Week: Pattern Glass

Last March I posted here pictures of a few cute cake stands I found online.  In this month’s Martha Stewart Living they had a whole article on glass cake stands.  A bunch of the cake stands they featured were from Pattern Glass and are absolutely goregous!