March 29, 2011
On my recent road trip, I purchased this cookbook because it was on the bargain shelf and looked like it had good recipes (p.s. I'm a sucker for good marketing in cookbooks - if it has glossy beautiful pictures of food, then I want it!) Cook Yourself Thin Faster. It's small-ish, with...you guessed it, lovely pictures :-)
I decided to make the Chopped Taco Salad. Pretty obvious and could've come up with it myself. But there was a recipe with it for homemade dressing and I wanted to try it. It's kinda like ranch dressing, with cilantro in it. Not the prettiest dressing ever, but it sure was yummy:
Because I was making taco salad, I got all Mexican-focused and decided to attempt my own salsa for the first time. I used a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook that I have (awesome/massive cookbook). I think I pulsed it too many times in the food processor, cuz it looked a little mushy:
And then, I thought, how about some guacamole also? I make an awesome guac if I do say so myself (if there's anything I learned in my previous relationship, and there were many things, one of them was definitely how to make delicious guac!)
A pic of the finished salad...mmmm....
And the best part was enjoying the food with my dear friend who came over for dinner :-)
*Does anyone recommend a good salsa recipe? I'd like to try one with fruit - pineapple or mango maybe?
*Does anyone want to come over for dinner?
March 23, 2011
Fourteen days ago I started my Lenten practices. Here’s an update on how they’re going so far…
The only sweets I will eat are those that I made myself, or that someone close to me has made themselves. Also going fabulously! I LOVE this rule for myself! It makes me think a lot more about what I’m putting in my body, and where it comes from. You can read about my spinach brownie experiment here. Last weekend, when I was with friends in DC we made “Monster” cookies…delicious oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate goodness. Not sure what I’m going to try next! But I’m definitely eating much less sweets because of this rule. One thing that makes me feel like I’m cheating is that my morning granola has chocolate in it. I blame this on Virginia for buying the granola (although I can’t blame her for the fact that I bought it at the grocery store upon returning to Chicago!). But I figure, I’m eating ½ cup for breakfast. I don’t eat it all day long so that I can eat a “treat” – that’s when it would be cheating, right?
Reading for fun. That giddy feeling you get when you can't wait to start reading again so you can find out what happened. When you accidentally stay up all night so you can finish a book (ok, let's be honest. I've never been able to stay up ALL night, and in my ripe age of 30, well...no all-nighters for me!).
When I was a kid, I used to plot ways to move my bedside light around so that my parents could not tell that my light was on. And I'd stay up til the wee hours of the morning reading book after book, usually RL Stine, or Babysitters Club (omg, I LOVED these!!!).
I haven't felt that excited about reading in a good decade, at least. Let's face it. When it takes 3 months to read a measly fiction book, because you're too busy reading the loads of work for school...well, a book just isn't the same. And no matter how often I tried to continue to read for fun during my undergrad and graduate years....it just wasn't fun. I'd fall asleep after a couple pages (well, that still happens sometimes, but now I blame old age.) :-) Or I'd have to go for a week without picking up the book, and by then I'd forgotten everything I'd already read!
Fast forward to the past month or so. OHMYGOSH reading is so back! I joined goodreads.com - kinda like social networking for book nerds. Well, not kinda like...it IS. So you can keep track of the books you've read, books you are currently reading, and ones that you want to read in the future. You can write reviews, and see your friends reviews.
My rediscovering happened when I decided to re-read the 7th (& Final - sad face) Harry Potter book. I wanted to be fully prepared for the movie to come out this summer. Wow, that book starts out sorta slow, setting up what is to come. And then I just couldn't put it down. I'd be excited to get home so I could read some more. I'd turn off the tv (or never turn it on) so that I could see what else Hermione would pull out of her magical bag. Aaahhhh
Then I picked up Lord of the Rings. I've never read those. And started making lists of all the classics that I never read that I think I should read. And before you know it, I was in the midst of 4 books at the same time. See above comments about my old age and forgetfulness, and you can maybe guess that this was a problem. Too many books!
I'm trying to tone it down a bit. But not too much. I'm soooo happy to have rediscovered my love of reading. I wasn't sure it would ever return. But return it has.
What good books have you read recently?
March 13, 2011
VA has the book "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld - yeah, THAT guy's wife. The whole concept of the cookbook is that you can puree various fruits & veggies, stick them in random foods that you wouldn't normally, and voila! You will have successfully deceived your kids and fed them healthy food without them even realizing it!
Now, I don't have kids...and I'm not so into the deception part....but I AM all about figuring out more ways for ME to get more produce in my diet - especially veggies. So when we found a recipe adding veggies to one of my FAVORITE desserts (BROWNIES!!), I thought, why not?!
So here is a story about VA & Reba making low-fat spinach brownies :-)
The first thing you need to do is puree some veggies. This particular recipe called for pureed carrots and pureed spinach. Pureeing requires steaming the veggies, then blending in a food processor or blender. Here's some pics:
After the pureeing, it was time to make the brownies!
And I just realized I totally forgot to take a pic of the actual brownies!! It's okay, I want to try making them again sometime with a few tweaks of my own. They tasted...spinach-y. haha. I'll try and post the recipe for y'all (I've been down South too long!) when it's not 2 am...
March 10, 2011
Commonly a time where self-indulgent people everywhere choose to give something up....we often hear about people giving up a certain food (chocolate, anyone?), or soda (mmm, bubbles), and these days there are crazy people everywhere even giving up Facebook (crazy I tell you!).
Forty days without chocolate, Dr. Pepper, or putzing around on Facebook when I should be writing cover letters & applying for jobs? EEK.
Try forty days without running water, or 40 days on minimum wage, or 40 days without any internet whatsoever (gasp!).
Ok, that last one is a joke. Hopefully if you're reading this you know me well enough to know that every once in awhile I throw a little sarcasm in to spice things up. But only a bit. :-)
But seriously. It's ONLY 40 days. And maybe it would do well for all of us, church goers or not, to try a measly 40 days without something. However, I would argue that it's not just about giving something up. For me, it's about what I mentioned above - honoring the things I eat, and the products I use, and all the things I take for granted - honoring where they came from; honoring the hands that contributed to their production; acknowledging my own privilege in being able to CHOOSE to give something up. There are plenty more people in the world who have no choice, who don't even know when their next meal is, and here I am choosing to give up (gasp!) chocolate. What a sacrifice.
These are things I will reflect on for the next 40 days. In the midst of the various things people choose to reflect on during this time of year, this is where my heart lies right now. And, as a method of accountability, here are the things I'm going to be intentional about these coming days....
1. I will not be spending ridiculous amounts of money on fancy coffee drinks when I can easily make my own. No, I'm not quitting coffee. This would be unwise and detrimental to myself and all those who come in contact with me (my therapist agrees with me). But let's talk about the many reasons I should NOT be frequenting Starbucks every day...I'm spending crazy amounts of money!! Why is this bad? Well, there's the obvious reason of I don't have a real job and can't even afford health insurance so what the hell am I doing spending $$ at Starbucks?!! Ultimately, though, there are much better places and things I could spend my hard-earned part-time money on, and Sbux is not it. And when I make my coffee myself, I can choose fair-trade options, I can know where it came from, and I can know what I'm putting in it (instead of all those fatty delicious calorie-laden syrups that Sbux adds). Overall, I think this should be healthier for both my wallet and my waistline.
2. The only sweets I will eat are those that I made myself, or that someone close to me has made themselves. I'm smart, you see - I'm not doing the typical "I'm giving up sweets for Lent!" That's just crazy. And I've done it before. It doesn't work for me. Easter comes and I gorge myself on ice cream and chocolate, and then think constantly about these things pretty much everyday thereafter. (Yes, I'm admitting this to the whole world right here - please don't judge).
My reasoning for this one comes from reading in the last several months all of Michael Pollan's books about the US food system. In Food Rules, Pollan talks about how readily available and cheap so much processed food is in the US. Back in the good ole days, if someone wanted fried chicken, or french fries (or you name it), they couldn't just run to McD's or KFC and pick up a box. They had to spend the day cutting and peeling and battering and frying, which takes awhile! Not to mention all the cleanup that comes with it. Ick. So...in an effort to honor where my food comes from and what goes into them, I'm going to make my sweets myself - that way I know exactly what's going in them, and reducing my intake of processed foods...which is a long-term goal of mine. This will ultimately be healthier for me as well because it will cut down on the number of sweets I eat. Plus, I can't wait to see how homemade ice cream turns out! And I'm also on the lookout for a Nutella recipe. :-)
3. I won't be using plastic bags at all. If I go to a store and forget my reusable bags - well, I'd better not buy more than I can carry in my own 2 arms. When I need to clean up cat poop, well, I'd better figure out a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of it. Need I say more?
What practices are you giving up or adding for Lent this year?
Check back next week for an update on my Lenten practices :-)
March 9, 2011
Here it is March 2o11. Nearly 2 years later. I'm all graduated. I'm 30 years old. I'm still running (both literally & figuratively - ha)...and listening to that same iPod.
But why does May 2009 seem like a million years ago?
I've been toying with the idea of becoming a more serious blogger for about a year now (which equals about a half million years in my time-warped brain). It all started with my idea to have a blog solely about Chicago drivers. You see, I have a plethora of tips & tricks, not to mention some common sense, that I'd LOVE to teach my fellow drivers in Chicago. And, considering that I'm obviously an excellent driver....who better to teach others...than me, right?!
But that felt pretty limiting as I thought it through. I'll be sharing those here, along with the other random, yet relevant thoughts that pop into my head.
Yep - relevant random rants by Reba. How can you resist my rambling?
Who knew I was so skilled at alliteration.
By the way...if you find yourself thinking, haha this is funny, or haha this chick is crazy, or haha I don't get what this girl is sayin but for some reason I kinda like it....well, fell free to spread the love. You should know that after many years of school and thousands of dollars spent, I've realized that my true calling was not to be a member of the traditional work force. Nope! My true calling is to write a random ass blog that hits it big and makes me a billionaire. True story!
But I'm starting from scratch here and will need all the help I can get. If there's a topic you want me to write about - please let me know! I welcome your thoughts. And if you've read this far, well, shucks. You're amazing.