Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last Night I Slept without an Aid--It was Kind of a Big Deal

Last night I went to sleep all by myself. Not like I slept alone, but that I went to sleep without the help of my generic Ambien. It wasn't some big test, but more like a necessity because I forgot to pick up the prescription from Walgreen's before the pharmacy closed. I'm not a hero and I never pretend to be one.

So I had to draw upon the bag of tricks that I used to fall asleep pre-prescription days. I waited until I was tired before I headed to bed. I fell asleep to the lulling sounds of Chef's snores and the Style Network's Clean House. And I actually stayed asleep for the majority of the night. I only woke up three times in the night. And was able to go back to sleep each time.

However, one night does not a lifetime make. I got my prescription filled and picked it up today. So I'm again not playing the hero and will be induced into a log-sawing slumber in just a few hours. And I'm so excited for it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.

Tonight was penne with a tomato, bacon, cheese sauce. Sounds grossly unhealthy and sure there was some fat from the bacon, but what doesn't right? With the exception of the Olsen twins. All good things have some fat.

So, bacon, wine, pasta, tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Stir stir stir. Toss toss toss. Yumminess in my mouth. And not altogether that bad for me in small portions.

Good times. I wish that Chef had some of it. However, he headed to bed a little early tonight. Must have been the loads of laundry and cleaning he did while I was at work today. God bless it. The only problem is that I am now relegated to working on work things because I have the time, nothing on TV and the work. Or I could close up shop and relax. Or write a blog entry. Decisions, decisions.

Meal Plan Week Two

Okay, so week one was fairly successful. Aside from the great chicken debacle, we ate pretty well and I didn't have to answer a lot of food-related questions. This week has started out along a similiar vein. One thing I will say is that I'm a little over ambitious in the amount of meals I should be cooking each week. Mostly because we have a full fridge and need to add at least one leftover night.

We had cheesy grits with shrimp and bacon on Saturday night. Delish. Truly good. Tonight I think it's garlicky penne with broccoli. I had something else on the menu, but I'm a few dishes behind. I get overzealous.

Nonetheless, the experiment continues...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mustard Chicken...Not so good

Tonight's dinner started out with good intentions and ended up with an emergency run for sustenance via a drive-thru. I'm fairly certain that's how most people end up in the their cars lined up for food that's passed through a window. That and good advertising.

But I digress. It was a baked chicken with a mustard herb rub. I made it, baked it and it took it out. The smell was pretty gross. I couldn't even make myself try it. I just asked Chef what he wanted from where and grabbed my purse. He was also in charge of clean-up or as he called it "hazardous waste disposal." Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but it wasn't good.

Tomorrow is a garlicky penne with broccoli. It's also my normal grocery day, so I've got to come up with some recipes for next week. Again, I'm open to anything you all want to send me!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chicken Parm Night Treated Us Alright

I used a Cooking Light recipe tonight for some Chicken Parmesan. It might have been "light" but it was also delicious. I have to admit that I fudged mine up. The pan wasn't hot enough and I was impatient, so the first round of tenders stuck to the pan. Chef intervened for his round. Even thought they weren't perfect looking, my tenders were delicious.

So three nights down and two to go. Tomorrow features one of my new favorite vegetables: brussel sprouts. Damn, those things are delicious. Just roasted with some salt, pepper and olive oil.

Cooking is nice but thankfully doesn't take up all night. What is there to watch on TV this summer? It seems like nothing. Everything on Showtime and HBO is ending, except for TrueBlood and FINALLY Entourage. Nothing good on network TV. No good sports. I guess I'll have to spend more time reading!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Well, I liked it

Tonight we had artichoke chicken pasta, a recipe from an American Heart Association cookbook, by the way. I love artichokes. I love olives, feta, olive oil, Mediterranean spices, all that stuff. And I love them all together.

Apparently my love to artichokes blocked out the fact that Chef isn't a fan. I swear that I asked him, but clearly I didn't listen too closely to the answer because I had two dishes this week featuring artichokes. One was put on hold and was a pizza, so luckily, I can adjust that accordingly.

Nevertheless, tonight's dish featured artichokes heavily (as evident by the title) as well as lemon, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and a bit of olive oil. It seemed to be a good, lighter flavored summer kind of recipe. And I loved it. It was flavorful, delicious and filled me up. Three things I look for in any meal. Add some salad on the side and BAM, I'm good to go. Needless to say, Chef wasn't the biggest fan as it tasted strongly of artichokes.

It was an easy recipe that only took about 30 minutes start to finish (Chef awesomely cut and cooked the chicken for me) and came in at 298 calories per serving. I probably could've used whole wheat pasta to lower some of the sugars, but I didn't.

So night two of cooking is under the belt. Tomorrow is a baked chicken parm (non-breaded). I'm kind of excited that we're eating some different stuff. I'm a little nervous because we've had leftovers both nights and I'm thinking that we might have to have a "clean out the fridge" dinner. Although I can't really complain about having too much food that's ready to eat after having no prepared food options, can I? Of course I can. The grass is always greener. . .

Just a food question that's a little off topic, but when did IHOP start thinking that diabetic-coma inducing carnival food was a good marketing strategy? Funnel cakes are not main dishes. Putting syrupy fruit and whipped cream on everything does not translate into a fruit serving and a dairy serving. Stuffing pancakes or French toast or crepes with cream cheese is not the best start to the day. Am I the only one whose noticed this?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's for Dinner? Stuffed Shells

Tonight was the first real night in the meal plan. We ended up going out on Saturday night to Sportsman's Grill (and the newly opened Sweet Cece's--which was delicious--I had Cake Batter FroYo with fruity pebbles on top--heaven! But I digress...). So instead of taquitos on Saturday, we had them on Sunday. And they were delicious, as usual.

Instead of having the artichoke white pizza from Sunday, I went ahead with the regularly scheduled program: Stuffed Shells. Even though it was not all that different than spaghetti, the fact that the noodles were differently shaped and the proportions of herbs were different made it a good change. Plus the recipe came from a Trim and Terrific book my stepmom Robin gave me and so the calorie count per serving was about 400 calories. And it was mighty hearty.

Chef suggested measuring out some low fat ricotta cheese to add a bit to each shell. That would've been nice. I think the only fault was that the recipe made so much and called for a 2-quart dish when it should've been larger. So some of the shells didn't receive as much sauce and dried out a little.

All in all, the main point that made me excited was that I was excited again about cooking. I forgot how fun it can be when you're doing it for fun and not out of chore or obligation. I hope this enthusiasm lasts for a while.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strategic Grocery Shopping

So one of the banes of my existence is the question "What's for dinner tonight?". Seems like a simple question and it's not that difficult really. But the question seems loaded. By the end of the day the last thing I want to do is make another decision. I'm typically drained as soon as I walk in the door and pillaging through the cabinets to find something.

So after being inspired by my friend who plan the week's meals and derive their lists off of it, I decided to put the effort back in. I used to sit with Chef and plan for the week. It made life easier. But much like you forget how good it feels to work out after you've neglected yourself for a while, I forgot how nice it is to have the "What's for dinner?" question answered before I walk through the door.

Tonight was grocery night and my cart runneth over. The recipes were less a contributing factor to that than the fact that I was hungry when shopping and it had been about two weeks since I'd done a thorough shopping trip. Tomorrow is the first day and not that outside of the box. It's taquito night. The timing is judged by the ripeness of the avocados--the right avocados are key to the guacamole. Other dishes I'm making this week (for the first time):
  • artichoke white pizza
  • crab spring rolls
  • jumbo stuffed shells
  • artichoke rotini with chicken
  • Herbed Chicken Parmesan
  • chicken with mustard and herbs
  • Penne with garlicky broccoli
Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shudder Island

It was my fault. I was the one who bought into the hype. Or at least the "it's got an ending you won't believe!" promotion. I made Chef watch "Shutter Island" with me last night. I'm not someone who hates Leonardo Dicaprio. I'm not a huge fan either, but I respect his abilities. I loved "Gone Baby Gone" and "Mystic River" (both Dennis Lehane adaptions), so I had high hopes for this one.

It was a let down to say the least. About 45 minutes too long. About one twist too short. Visually beautiful, I will give it that. I should've known better after trying to give M. Night Shyamalan more than just "The Sixth Sense." (Who else has suffered through "The Village"?). The last movie I was truly surprised in was "The Hangover" and that's just because we saw it fairly early and with no added hype or indication of what the plot would be. But I should know that if something is advertising a twist ending, it's probably not a good sign.

However, if you want to save the two and a half hours and be more fulfilled, just check out this video that truly did surprise me:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Putting the "Um" in Hump Day

As in "um, why did I wait so long to send out that email?" Or "um, why is my list of things to do suddenly twice as long as it was yesterday?". I know the reason. One part procrastination, two parts internal meetings to get things rolling and a healthy pinch of summer. Is it just me or does it seem like it takes longer for things to happen on a business front in the summer? People are randomly on vacation, out for Fridays, taking an afternoon off to go watch their children's baseball/softball/soccer games. Except for the last one, that would describe me, as well.

But today is Wednesday which means that tomorrow is Thursday and then we're in the home stretch for two days of player's choice. I'm choosing sometime soon to get a mani/pedi and do some organizing. Plus my friends up north were all excited about going organic, shopping at the farmer's market and eating in season. It inspired me to do a few things--or rather resume some things I'd been doing: 1) making a log of the next week's meals and deriving the list from that and 2) eating more vegetables. I forget how much I love things until I start talking about them to others. The passion with which I described roasted brussel sprouts made me realize that they aren't in my life enough.

So here's where I need your help. I'm stuck in a cooking rut. Send me your best recipes or favorite web sites for recipes, please!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back to Reality

Last week was somewhat less of a reality check as it was the third week in a row that I worked less than 5 days. This week. Not so much. Back to a full work week and all that that entails. I'm also back to missing my girls instead of being with them, but that is a constant for about 360 days a year.

Being up north did inspire me to start cooking more. I've let that slide and know that when I actually cook, I actually care what ends up in my body. Being busy was never an excuse when I was losing weight the first time and shouldn't be an excuse now. So I'm not gonna let it.

Wish me luck. . .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One Day To Indy

I'm having a really rough time writing anything that makes sense for the novel this morning so I'm writing for the blog. Because I rarely make sense here.

Tomorrow I leave for Indianapolis. Well, actually I leave for Bloomington first and then on to Indy the next day. Every year I like to travel up there to leave the oppression of Southern heat and humidity for the only slightly less oppressive Midwestern heat and humidity. However, after getting trapped on the Interstate during a torrential downpour that had everyone driving 4 miles an hour and standing water on the road, I'm ready to get the heck out of dodge before the next round of rain hits.

Aside from the metereological aspects of travel, I'm really looking forward to seeing my girls. There comes a time in your life when you can only have so many people who are lifelong friends. Any friends I make now, although perfectly lovely and a wonderful addition to my life, are not by definition lifelong as they missed some formative years. By formative years, I mean years in which I was prone to drinking excessively, vomiting afterwards, doing stupid stuff while driving, repeatedly making poor decisions, being overdramatic about EVERYTHING, and being a geek.

But these friends are special too because two of them I lived with. I mean, other than living with your husband/boyfriend/lover when do you get the opportunity to live with your best friends? Not too often. And I got to and it was awesome. And now when I see them, we easilly fall back into the rhythm of conversation and poking fun that made us friends in the first place.

So, working today, driving tomorrow and then I'm coming up north!!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Diet is Back and Harder than Ever

Ugh. I've been lax on myself and eating for like 9 months which translates into 15 lbs of weight that I shouldn't be carrying. The good thing is knowing that I know how to lose weight. That sounds simple, but when you've never lost weight in your life it's hard to imagine. When I was at my heaviest, I had never really tried to lose weight. I might have given it a half-hearted week or two fad diet try. But it wasn't until I did the simple things that everyone told me worked was I succesful. The little things like watching my calories, portion sizes and getting active.

So today is day two back on the regime. Counting calories. Ordering smarter. Caring what I'm doing to my body. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Fine. I'm Hooked. Dammit.

I tried to avoid it, as I do most popular literature. Not because I'm a snob or because I think I know better. Because I don't know better. Anyone who knows my crappy taste in music knows that I don't think myself above craptasticness. However, I tend to avoid things everyone loves because I get disappointed if I don't love it too.

Case in point: A Prayer for Owen Meany. It was suggested to me by at least 6 people so I caved and read it. I hated it. I mean, I absolutely found little redeeming value in the novel. People LOVE this book and I couldn't see the appeal. It took great convincing to read another John Irving novel, but someone swore to me that The World According to Garp was more up my alley. And I'm glad they did, because I really enjoyed that one.

So it was with some trepidation that I started Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. The first 20 percent (I can't say "pages" because I downloaded to the Kindle and therefore there are screens, but not pages) was long and little tedious. And it took more than halfway through before the two main characters met. It's set up to happen the entire book and you're waiting, but it seems to take forever to get there.

But I digress and to avoid spoiling this book that's been out for 5 years, I'll just say. It's getting good.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Vacation Day Ten: Last Vestiges of Relaxation

It's the last official day of my staycation. While a tiny part of me is ready to go back to work, another part of me is ready for a life of being independently wealthy. Who isn't though, right? The good thing about tomorrow is that I wasn't overly ambitious and have no external meetings. One full day of getting caught up and back in the swing of things.

For the last two days, I've been working diligently to get as much relaxing in as possible. It's a tough job, let me tell you. I've slept. I've eaten. I've baked. It's been glorious.

The other thing I'm thanking God for is that for the third week in a row, I'm not working a full work week. I'm off on Friday because I'm heading up to Indianapolis to see my girls. I'm so excited to see them that I wish today was Friday. Plus it will be Liam's first long trip. I've got to get the ipod loaded up and ready to go. Ladies, I'm going to request that we have at least one cocktail of everyone's choosing while we're together.

But until then, I will enjoy the remaining hours of relaxation. Maybe I'll dig back into the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I've gotten 56% through it (or at least that's what the Kindle says). Now I'm watching a special on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of the Orlando Universal Studios theme park. Is it bad that I really want to go and visit Hogwarts in person? They keep saying "kids" will love it, but that means kids at heart, too, right?

Tomorrow it's back to work. Back to writing every morning. Back to running every morning. Back to eating better. Back to being healthy. Wish me luck.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Vacation Day Eight: Rest and Recovery

Some of you out there might've noticed that vacation day seven did not get chronicled. Frankly, that was poor planning on my part. Yesterday was Chef's birthday and we while we had done the eating celebration at Ruth's Chris, we did the drinking celebration at The Patterson House last night. We left earlier than I anticipated and therefore didn't get a blog entry off before the celebrating began.

And the celebrating was nice. We got to taste the spring menu of cocktails (the favorite of the ones I sampled was the Hush and Wonder--fruity but delicious) before they change it up for the summer. Chef had a drink that was also delicious and the best way to describe it was like drinking liquid cinnamon teddy grahams. I only got a taste, but it was one of the best drinks I've ever had.

We had taken a cab there, but decided to walk home--I had missed boot camp for his birthday so it was probably a good idea to get some exercise. However, about halfway home (it's only a little over a mile), we were regretting the decision. I need another pedicure because my feet are now once again crusty. It was hot last night.

It was a great celebration and a great way to cap off a week of being off. The dread for Monday's barrage of things to do is slowly creeping in. But for today, I am being productive in a domestic sense. I did the grocery shopping and have four loads of laundry in various stages.

I also am soaking up the last moments of cat snuggling. Particularly with Attila. He's my snuggle buddy normally, but we've had more time this week. I think he's going to take it hard when I go back to work. Or maybe I'm just pretending he'd take it hard to feel better about the fact that Genghis adores Chef so much.

So back to laundry. . .

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Vacation Day Six: A Little Stir Crazy

The furthest I went outside my apartment today was three feet out the door to admire the rain. And now that it's 8 p.m. and there's nothing on TV until Tosh.0 returns at 9:30 tonight (yay!!), I'm a little stir crazy.

Today in the house Chef and I bathed all the cats. We do that about once every six months just to keep them from smelling too much like cat. Or in Genghis's case, like trail mix for some reason. They all took it better than normal except for Khubla who went nuts. That was dangerous because he still has all his claws plus some extras. Once he got burritoed in a towel, he was fine.

After cat bathing time, I made black bean burgers. It was my first attempt and not too bad. I tried to model them off of the black bean veggie sliders at Ruby Tuesday, except normal sized and without barbecue sauce. I used black beans, brown rice, egg beater, salsa, cumin, garlic, onion powder and bread crumbs (when the rice was not dry enough to make the mixture stick). Pattied those bad boys out and then after cooking in the Foreman grill for 5 minutes, melted a piece of provolone on it, added the Healthy Life low cal white bread bun and some ketchup and was good to go. The nice thing about black bean burgers is that the main ingredients cost about $2 for 4 patties. Not too shabby. Although next time I will probably add more spices and maybe try the barbecue sauce.

The rest of the day was spent in leisure with some occasional email checking when I got bored or felt the compulsion (which truly is a sickness that I need to work on). Chef made pot roast and chipolte mashed sweet potatoes with broccoli for dinner. As usual, it was delicious.

Tomorrow is Chef's actual birthday. I'm planning on going to boot camp, and then coming home to get dolled up and head to the Patterson House for some drinks with my newly 29 year old (as of tomorrow) honey. While it's not another delicious filet, it is some delicious handmade cocktails. I haven't been to the Patterson House since the winter and am hoping the new spring/summer menu is out. Mmmmm.

Until tomorrow. . .

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Vacation Day Five: Working Out, Hanging Out

Ah, I'm finding my vacation stride. I had trouble sleeping through the night, but the joy of vacation is that I could get up at 5 a.m. and go back to sleep at 7 a.m. for several more hours. Love it.

Then I got up and had a leisurely morning hanging out with Chef before gathering up my shirt to be returned and heading to Old Navy. I ran a few errands and then went to boot camp. It was a greatly low key day.

The only thing that I'm worried about is my face. There's a huge zit sprouting up on my cheek and it's not looking pretty. Between the giant red blotch and the few episodes of "True Life" I've watched on MTV, I'm getting curious about the Zeno Hot Spot. It kind of freaks me out the Whitney from The City is hawking it. While she has good skin, she's not the most skilled pitchman. Or really speaker. She might be pretty smart, but she sounds like an idiot no matter what comes out of her mouth.

Which brings me back to the Zeno Hot Spot. I totally want to try it and see if I can get rid of this bulbous red raised pimple. But I can't seem to pull the trigger. Has anyone else wanted to check this out?


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