Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fake no-bakes

I love no bake cookies. They remind me of my elementary school cafeteria. But since I don't eat peanut butter or milk, having them has become a challenge. So I've decided to try to make some with some substitutes.

The consistency came out a little different than normal - less crumbly, more fudgy - but they taste good. Some people might actually prefer the consistency of mine. Here's my recipe (it's a small batch):

No Bake Cookies
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa
3 Tbsp margarine
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oatmeal

Bring sugar, cocoa, margarine, coconut oil and almond milk to boil while stirring. Continue stirring while allowing the mixture to boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Add almond butter, vanilla and oatmeal. Mix well. Drop cookies onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Let cool. Eat, but not too many at once.
Makes approx 2 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm so tired...

I'm almost at my breaking point. Working 9-10 hours a day + having a full house of kids and school starting up is making me about lose it. I NEED to run or something, but I'm too tired to do it most of the time. What I should be doing now is re-packing my suitcase. I packed last night, but I have too much, so I need to scale back. That means dump it all out and start again.

I did somehow manage to fix dinner tonight though. I could have bought something out, but that didn't seem justified with all the food we had in our house. So after work and kid's haircut, I fixed orange chicken. It was a recipe that touted itself as reminiscent of the Asian places in the mall food court...I'm not sure if I would say that. Since I didn't bread my chicken and I added a lot more veggies, it was kind of hard to compare. It did taste good, but it was too sweet - it had a CUP of brown sugar in it. That was too much for me. I'm going to have to work on the sauce a little more before I'll be completely happy with it. So no recipe post tonight. I'll work that sauce out, then post it at some point in the future.

I also need to work on a shopping list for vacation. When my sister picks me up at the airport we're going to go grocery shopping right away so I should probably get that ready...and I need to balance my checkbook...and put away laundry...and finish packing (yeah, I already said that) and I also have addition work that I need to get done tonight...dang it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Long day - quick dinner

I leave for vacation in less than three days. I think I have about a full week's worth of work to get done in that time, plus Annyka is starting school on Thursday and I'm still going to the chiropractor a couple times a week to make sure my back is healing. I worked about 9.5 hours today, went to buy the rest of the school supplies Annyka needs and picked up my prescriptions. I also got up early and worked out this morning.
So, the point is, the dinner I had planned did not happen, but I thought it would be a good day to try the rice salad I saw in the deli at Harris Teeter and wanted to try to recreate.

I emailed Harris Teeter and they sent me the ingredients - not a recipe, mind you, but an ingredient list - so I still had some work to do.

Here's what I came up with...

Wild Rice Salad

1 package of long grain & wild rice - prepared as indicated on package
1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp walnut oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
orange zest
dash of soy sauce
salt & pepper

Stir garlic, oils, vinegar, orange zest and soy sauce until well mixed. Mix together rice, oranges, scallions, nuts, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Add salt & pepper to taste. Let sit for at least an hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or straight from the fridge.

Tomorrow I'm having the leftovers of this rice over spinach for lunch!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Injured :(

I failed to tell you about my pathetic injury last week. I don't know when or how exactly I screwed myself up - probably a combination of things - but I turned my sacrum (pelvic bone) last Thursday morning.

I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday night like I normally do once a month then Thursday morning I went to Crossfit. We did pushups, situps, squats and inverted rows followed by a core series. By the time I left I was starting to have trouble walking without pain in my back. By mid-morning I was moving like a 80-yr-old lady with arthritis, and I envied them their walkers.

I managed to get through most of the day (I left at 3 pm) on pain meds and ice and got home and slept for a couple hours in Wilson's bed - only bed on the main floor of the house that is low to the ground. I went to the chiro again on Friday (but not my normal one) and thankfully over the weekend, the acute pain subsided and a constant ache settled in. Thankfully yesterday, my normal chiropractor figured out the problem with my sacrum and found a way to release the pressure in my pelvis. I am finally feeling so much better and starting to believe I might survive.

Evidently, runners are susceptible to turned sacrums, as well as people who sit in desks all day. It doesn't help that I have previous injury to that area (from adolescence) and little curvature in my lower spine. 

I've been swimming a lot this week to keep moving without taxing my body too much. I decided taking a couple weeks off from the heavy-duty working out is worth making sure I am rested and recovered for vacation (and the hiking that will come with it) and the triathlon.

I made polenta with veggie fajitas today. Finally figured out a way to fix polenta that I really like - baked, then finished with the broiler. I'll post some details on that later. Later, y'all.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mustard Mishap

Remember a couple weeks ago when we went to Cincinnati. One of our stops was at our favorite destination grocery store - Jungle Jim's. One of the items I wanted to get at JJs was some good mustard.

I've recently started making my own salad dressings and a good mustard can really make it - and I ran out of dijon. JJs has great ethnic food sections so I found a good French mustard made with champagne and a fairly straight-forward yellow German mustard. There was also stone ground French mustard that looked good. So we got all three of those. But I had forgotten that I had also thrown a bottle of French's dijon that was on sale just in case I didn't find any others. So we bought four mustards at Jungle Jim's.

Then on the following Tuesday we got our Green BEAN Delivery - I had forgotten that I had added a jar of local mustard to that order as well! So in a three-day period I got five new bottles of mustard. Thankfully, mustard doesn't go bad quickly. We'll be having it with everything.

I've used the Local Foods mustard mixed into ground beef for hamburgers and in barbeque beans. Last night I made pork chops in a white wine-mustard marinade and homemade sweet mustard dressing.

White Wine-Mustard Marinade
 2 Tbsp mustard - whatever kind you want - I used the yellow in the barrel shaped jar in the photo above.
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp pepper
dash of salt

Stir together and pour over pork or chicken. Allow meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Makes enough for 4 pork chops or chicken breasts.

Sweet Mustard Dressing
2 Tbsp mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped dill

Stir all ingredients together. Best if allowed to sit at least a couple hours before serving. Toss with mixed greens. Store in refrigerator. 8-12 servings.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A short break, but I'm back

I took a little break last week. A holiday week and lots of eating leftovers and easy foods. My kiddo is back home again in Indiana (you have to sing that if you know the song) so we spent pretty much every day last week at the pool. She discovered how much fun goggles are yesterday. She has a nice steady kick and pretty strong stroke in the water - I'd love to get her swimming some in a club, but she isn't ready and I don't want to push her too hard. I want her to enjoy it.

I won't do a full run down of what we ate last week...mostly because I don't remember. But I do remember lunch at Squealers on Wednesday. I had a craving for BBQ and it was the first red meat I'd eaten since May. I got a huge baked potato stuffed with beef brisket and steamed broccoli on the side. The restaurant was excellent for what they claim to be - A BBQ meat joint. Good sauce, good smoked meat. However, the sides left something to be desired. The broccoli wasn't fresh and it was burnt which leads me to believe it had been "cooked" in the microwave rather than steamed. The fruit that was a side option was canned. I heard good reviews from the rest of the family on the onion rings and the steak fries Annyka left behind were good. So as long as you're not looking for fruits and veggies - I would recommend it!

Dinner on Independence Day was a medley of Mediterranean things from the Greek bar. Is it against the law to have ethnic food on a patriotic holiday? I excuse myself from traditional American for dinner because I had BBQ for lunch. We watched fireworks. We sat in traffic and got home late.

Yesterday was a tough food day. I spent a couple hours in the morning preparing food for Annyka's lunches this coming week - hamburgers (with a vegetable puree mixed in - bell pepper, spinach, carrot and onion), lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and carrot-zucchini muffins. Do you know how hard it is to properly season mac & cheese when you can't taste it!? And the lasagna smelled so good. I might have to breakdown and try some "veggie cheese" to make some lasagna.

At the risk of sharing too much information, even if I didn't already know, it was obvious what time of the month it was for me because I was craving food all day long - chips, ice cream, chocolate, lasagna, whatever. I held out on the ice cream, but I did have some chips. Dinner ended up being a Med-bowl: white beans, brown rice, roasted red bell pepper, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes. I brought the same for lunch today. I should have brought a salad too. Oh well.

I'm taking a bike maintenance class at REI tonight so I'll have to grab dinner - probably either Paradise Cafe for a salad or Qdoba.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Homemade energy foods

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I need to find energy foods that I can take with me hiking/backpacking. Today, while I keep an eye on my pukey kid (who is watching Soul Surfer), I've been experimenting in the kitchen.

I roasted some chick peas in tamari and cilantro. They turned out okay but not as crunchy as I had hoped...but I, of course, didn't actually follow any recipe. I just winged it. I'll look up some tips online for next time.

I also just finished whipping up a batch of homemade cherry-nut bars. They were super easy - the hardest part is pitting the cherries and what I tasted of them was awesome. They are in the freezer now. I'll try to guess at the dimensions for y'all's sake, but I failed to measure what I was putting in.

Cherry-Nut Bars
8 oz dates, pitted
6 oz sweet cherries, pitted
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup flax meal
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Put dates and cherries in food processor and pulse until chopped finely. Add nuts, vanilla, almond meal and flax meal. Pulse a few more times.

Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper. Spread fruit and nut mixture evenly over about 1/3 of the cookie sheet. Fold the rest of the wax paper over the mixture. Place in freezer for about 2 hours. Slice into bars and wrap each bar in plastic wrap. Store in fridge until ready to eat.

Makes about 8 bars.